We’ve all seen it in horror movies, the archetypal black bat, who suddenly morphs into human form, retaining its sharp teeth, lunging for and infecting its victim. The truth unfortunately, is just as horrifying.
Scientists claim that a specific type of fruit bat, scientifically known as the Rousettus aegypticus is responsible for two extremely deadly diseases. Ebola is one of the most contagious viruses known to man. A bare handshake can infect the victim and the deadly virus kills between 50 to 90 percent of its hosts through massive internal bleeding. Worst of all, there is no cure. Marburg is a disease characterized by fever, with similar mortality rates.
National Geographic reported last month that:
“There has long been speculation among scientists that bats are the natural reservoir for Ebola. In scientific experiments, researchers have injected bats with the Ebola virus, and the bats have survived. “You find bats in almost every outbreak,” said Bob Swanepoel, head of the Special Pathogens Division at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.”
Additionally, the researchers, from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Centre International de Recherches Medicales de Franceville in Gabon tested more than 1,000 bats caught in caves in Gabon and DR Congo, and came to the conclusion that the bats were responsible.
“Identifying Marburg and Ebola infection in the African fruit bats brings us one step closer to understanding this deadly disease,” Eric Leroy, one of the study’s authors, told AFP news agency.
Marburg and the related Ebola virus have caused in the past large outbreaks with extremely high mortality rates, 80 to 90%, in humans and great apes.
The largest outbreak of the Marburg disease occurred in Angola in 2004 – 2005 and killed over 300 people.
Scientists believ this break-through may help them to further understand the diseases and come up with cures.
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