Three species of fruit bats may be the long-sought reservoirs of Ebola virus in Africa, according to a report in this week's Nature. Researchers have found antibodies specific to Ebola as well as viral RNA sequences in symptom-less bats, which they collected in central Africa during Ebola outbreaks in humans and other great apes.

"It's a very significant finding for all of us who have been working with this virus for a very long time," said Joseph McCormick of the University of Texas School of Public Health at Brownsville, who was not involved in the study.

From 2001 to 2003, Eric Leroy of the International Center for Medical Research in Gabon and his colleagues collected more than 1,000 small vertebrates in areas of Gabon and the Republic of the Congo that were stricken with primate outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

Of these animals, the researchers detected immunoglobulin G (IgG)...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?