Researchers combing the forests of Central Africa have found evidence that fruit bats can carry the Ebola virus, a report in the Dec. 1 Nature reveals.
Ebola causes an often deadly hemorrhagic fever in people, but how the virus spreads from place to place and between species has perplexed scientists since human infections were first identified in 1976 in Zaire.
Using nets, the scientists trapped 679 bats and 222 birds, along with 129 rodents and other small ground animals, in an area spanning parts of Gabon and the Republic of Congo. The researchers chose the area because local people there had found gorilla and chimpanzee carcasses infected with Ebola.
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