June 15, 2024

Ebola Outbreak Started Through Contact with Fruit Bats

The current Ebola outbreak crisis that has many people so worried started in eastern Guinea, through a “chance contact” by a toddler with an infected fruit bat. Fruit bats are natural reservoirs for the virus, according to the World Health Organization. The bats migrate over long distances. Fruit bats are regularly eaten in rural West Africa.

Petri DishDirect transmission to people is very rare. Many people in very poor countries hunt the bats for food, and also hunt bushmeat, with people eating dead infected animals. There has also been huge death rates in chimpanzee and gorillas in African countries. Those animals eat fruit dropped to the ground by infected bats. People forage in the forests where these sick and dying animals live, and come into direct contact with “blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of the infected animals.”

Person-to-person transmission of the disease is very difficult. You must come into direct contact with organs, or body fluids such as blood and secretions of infected people.

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said that more than 10 years of budget cuts at his agency has slowed down research on an Ebola vaccine. He stated that an Ebola¬†vaccine most likely would have been developed if not for those cuts. NIH’s purchasing power is down 23% from 2004.

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