MOLECULAR MEDICINE

Bat-filled tree source of Ebola epidemic?

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Science  09 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6218, pp. 142-143
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6218.142-h

Ground zero for the Ebola epidemic in West Africa may have been a hollow tree where children played and bats roosted. A year ago, a toddler in the Guinean village of Meliandou died of a mysterious disease; his family became infected shortly after. Bats are leading suspects for how the toddler caught the disease; in March 2014, scientists went to Guinea to look for signs of an Ebola outbreak in wildlife. But Saéz et al. report finding no such evidence and no direct evidence of Ebola infections in 169 bats they captured and tested. Yet they did find a clue: A tree stump near the toddler's house that burned on 24 March 2014, causing a “rain of bats,” villagers said. Ash around the tree contained DNA fragments matching the Angolan free-tailed bat, known to survive infections with Ebola.

EMBO Mol. Med. 10.15252/emmm.201404792 (2014).

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