See Origin of Ebola: Insect-Eating Bat May Be Origin of Ebola Outbreak, New Study Suggests

A dissected insect bat
pinned to a pad at a
makeshift laboratory. The
samples will be frozen in
liquid nitrogen and sent to
a lab in Berlin, Germany.
According to new found study, the first Ebola
victim may have contracted the disease from
small bats dwelling in a hollow tree.
While people in West Africa continue to die from
Ebola, scientists are pondering a mystery that
has eluded them since the first known outbreak
of the virus among humans, in 1976: Where
does this fearful bug hide when it’s not killing
people?
A new hypothesis described today in EMBO
Molecular Medicine, from an international team
led by Fabian Leendertz of the Robert Koch
Institute in Berlin, presents an unexpected
scenario of how Ebola 2014 may have gotten
started. The study suggests that the virus may
have passed into its first human victim, a child,
from a small insect-eating bat, an animal so
diminutive that it is hunted by children but not
by adults.
Ebola virus is a zoonosis, meaning an infectious
agent that lives inconspicuously and innocuously
within some nonhuman animal (its reservoir
host) and spills over occasionally into humans,
causing disease.
Fruit bats, which are relatively large and meaty,
have often been touted as suspects, but the
virus’s reservoir host has never been positively
identified. The gold standard of proof—culturing
live virus from the tissues or blood of a
candidate animal—hasn’t ever been achieved
from fruit bats, nor from any other creature. So
the virus is still at large, its reservoir
indeterminate, its whereabouts unknown,
somewhere within the landscape of tropical
Africa.

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