To prevent any Ebola outbreaks from occurring in the future, finding the place it is still lurking is essential. Ebola is a zoonotic disease, hence, it can spread between animals and humans. Ebola are found in a long term host, a quiet refuge for Ebola. These species are called the reservoir species. Hence, there will always be a chance where Ebola affects human again.

Searches have been done in the forested parts of Africa, the home of a number of possible reservoirs species. Bats was shortlisted as one of the more possible reservoir species. Bats lives around humans and can carry Ebola infection without symptoms. Based on research that has tested a wide variety of small mammals, bats, primates, insects and amphibians, several species of fruit bat have emerged as possible candidates.

Some researchers, like Fabian Leendertz of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, are working with  evidence that points to the insectivorous bat Mops condylurus. The first case of the 2014 Ebola epidemic was a 2 year old boy in Guinea who had spent time inside a large hollow cola tree near his house before falling ill. The tree is home for these bats. The boy eventually died in December 2013. By March, officials were raising awareness about the outbreak. Unfortunately, by the time researchers arrived in April to examine the tree and its inhabitants, it had been burned down.

They are also people who do not believe that bats are not the reservoir species and searched for other possible targets. Virologist Jens Kuhn of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, told Nature that he thinks bats live much too close to humans: if they were the reservoir, it would be curious that there have been so few cases of Ebola since the discovery of the virus 40 years ago. He believes that insects or fungi could be responsible. He believes that Ebola will be found in a “strange host”, and that the virus could be lurking in a tick or a flea which will bites bats, and transmit to bats and eventually to humans. (Cowart, 2016)

fruit-bat.jpg

Source: Cowart, L. (2016) Ebola: The secret hideout of the virus. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/ebola-the-secret-hideout-of-the-viris-a7339781.html (Accessed: 11 January 2017).

 

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