Some new research on the Ebola virus in fruit bats has found that Ebola virus antibodies are presented in a small proportion of bats in Bangladesh. This indicates the global reach of Ebola-like diseases.
For the study the Rousettus fruit bats was examined; this bat is common to Bangladesh. Scientists found that in Ebola virus antibodies were present in around 4% of the 276 bats scientists screened.
The findings suggest that results suggest that the Rousettus fruit bats are a reservoir for Ebola, or a new Ebola-like virus in South Asia. The research summary states:
"To determine geographic range for Ebola virus, we tested 276 bats in Bangladesh. Five (3.5%) bats were positive for antibodies against Ebola Zaire and Reston viruses; no virus was detected by PCR. These bats might be a reservoir for Ebola or Ebola-like viruses, and extend the range of filoviruses to mainland Asia."
Rousettus is a genus of Old World fruit bats. They are sometimes referred to as dog-faced fruit bats, or flying foxes. The genus consists of ten species that range over most of Africa to southeast Asia, and the islands of the south Pacific.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the human disease which may be caused by any of four of the five known Ebola viruses. The name comes from Ebola River in Republic of the Congo, where it was first found. One of the common signs of the disease is bleeding from mucous membranes and puncture sites. It is normally fatal.
The study was supported by the EcoHealth Alliance. The EcoHealth Alliance works to understand the dynamics of emerging diseases and the ecology of associated wildlife reservoirs to prevent and better control potentially pandemic outbreaks. EcoHealth Alliance is a nonprofit organization.
The research has been published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases (an official publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control).