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​EcoHealth Alliance Scientists Discover the Deadly Zaire Ebola Virus in West African Bat

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  • ​EcoHealth Alliance Scientists Discover the Deadly Zaire Ebola Virus in West African Bat

    EcoHealth Alliance Scientists Discover the Deadly Zaire Ebola Virus in West African Bat

    NEW YORK ? January 24, 2019 ? The government of Liberia, in partnership with EcoHealth Alliance and the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, have found Ebola virus in a bat in Liberia. This is the first finding of Zaire ebolavirus in a bat in West Africa, adding to other evidence suggesting bats serve as a natural wildlife reservoir for Ebola and other related viruses. Scientists found both genetic material from the virus and ebolavirus antibodies against it in a Greater Long-fingered bat (Miniopterus inflatus) in Liberia?s northeastern Nimba District. EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit working at the intersection of animal, environmental, and human health on a global scale, has been actively working in Liberia since the end of the West African Ebola epidemic in 2016. This work is a part of the USAID PREDICT project, which aims to better understand the animal reservoirs, seasonality, and transmission of viruses that can cause epidemic diseases.

    There are six species of Ebola virus and Zaire ebolavirus is the one responsible for causing the West African Ebola epidemic which infected nearly 30,000 people between 2013 and 2016. Researchers at CII are working to determine whether the strain found in the bat is exactly the same one associated with the 2013-2016 outbreak. The evidence so far, from about 20 percent of the virus? genome, suggests that it is closely related. Zaire ebolavirus is also responsible for the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is now the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.

    No human cases of Ebola are linked to this discovery and Liberia has remained free of any new human cases since the end of the 2013-2016 outbreak. However, this finding brings us closer to understanding where human Ebola cases come from.
    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela