BERLIN, Dec. 31 — Bats are a possible source of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, said a study on Tuesday.
The outbreak of the Ebola virus disease occurring in West Africa may have originated from contact between humans and virus-infected bats, suggested a study led by researchers from the Robert Koch-Institute in Berlin.
The report, published in EMBO Molecular Medicine, also reveals that larger wildlife is not the source of infection.
The report identifies insectivorous free-tailed bats as plausible reservoirs and expands the range of possible Ebola virus sources to this type of bats.
The multi-disciplinary team of researchers led a four-week field mission in Guinea in April 2014 to examine human exposure to bats, to survey local wildlife and to capture and sample bats in Meliandou and in neighboring forests.
The index village Meliandou in south-eastern Guinea is located in an area heavily modified by humans representing "modern" African settings.
As villagers reported, children often used to play in and around the tree, which may have resulted in a massive exposure to free-tailed insectivorous bats.
The virus that spread from Meliandou into other areas of Guinea and Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal, represents the largest ever-recorded Ebola outbreak killing 7,800 people, said the report. (PNA/Xinhua)