Research Points to Greater Long-Fingered Bat

Scientists puzzling over how Ebola Zaire, the cause of West Africa's deadly outbreak, made it to region have found an important clue in a greater long-fingered bat likely infected with the strain, Science reported.

It’s too soon to say for sure, the researchers—part of a USAID-funded PREDICT project—cautioned. They did not isolate the virus in the bat, but they found about 1/5 of its genome. And, the virus could have multiple hosts.

Still, the Liberian government and partners took the unusual step of sharing the results ahead of scientific publication. “It feels premature scientifically, but on the other hand, you have the public health aspect. We do have enough data to suggest to me that it is Ebola Zaire in this bat,” Simon J. Anthony, a Columbia University virologist behind the lab research told the New York Times.
 
The bats should not be exterminated, the researchers were careful to explain—they play an important role in the ecosystem.

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