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Fruit bats as reservoirs of Ebola virus

Bat species eaten by people in central Africa show evidence of symptomless Ebola infection.


The first recorded human outbreak of Ebola virus was in 1976, but the wild reservoir of this virus is still unknown1. Here we test for Ebola in more than a thousand small vertebrates that were collected during Ebola outbreaks in humans and great apes between 2001 and 2003 in Gabon and the Republic of the Congo. We find evidence of asymptomatic infection by Ebola virus in three species of fruit bat, indicating that these animals may be acting as a reservoir for this deadly virus.

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Figure 1: Fruit bats as potential carriers of Ebola virus.


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Correspondence to Eric M. Leroy.

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Leroy, E., Kumulungui, B., Pourrut, X. et al. Fruit bats as reservoirs of Ebola virus. Nature 438, 575–576 (2005).

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