Bat patrol

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Science  02 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6341, pp. 901-903
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6341.901

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In the middle of the night in a patch of rainforest in the Republic of the Congo, Vincent Munster and his team are catching fruit bats and sampling them. They are looking for Ebola. Munster, a virus ecologist, usually works in a high security lab in the Rocky Mountains. But for several years now, he has been coming back to the same patch of forest in nothern Congo to sample hammer-headed fruit bats. Reserachers say this kind of longitudinal sampling is needed, if they want to understand where exactly the Ebola virus lurks and what causes it to jump from bats to other mammals including people with no discernable pattern. Hammer-headed fruit bats are the prime suspects for the Ebola reservoir, but no live virus has ever been isolated from a bat.