Bats could be the possible reason behind the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease occurring in West Africa, according to a study led by researchers from the Robert Koch-Institute in Berlin, Germany. The researchers have suggested that the epidemic may have originated from contact between humans and virus-infected bats.
Ebola epidemics are of zoonotic origin, transmitted to human populations either through contact with larger wildlife or by direct contact with bats. The study identified insectivorous free-tailed bats as plausible reservoirs and expands the range of possible Ebola virus sources to this type of bats.
The multidisciplinary team of researchers led a 4-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 study has been published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.