Marburg Virus Found in Sierra Leone Bats

Community engagement meeting in Kakoya village, Sierra Leone
A community engagement meeting about Marburg virus in Kakoya village, Sierra Leone. Following discovery of Marburg virus in bats in three districts of Sierra Leone, the PREDICT-USAID team worked with the Sierra Leone government to inform people about this new health risk. (Yongai Bona/PREDICT)

First Report of Angolan-like Strain in Bats Since Initial Outbreak in People in 2005

Scientists have detected Marburg virus in fruit bats in Sierra Leone, marking the first time the deadly virus has been found in West Africa. Eleven Egyptian rousette fruit bats tested positive for active Marburg virus infection. Research teams caught the bats separately in three health districts.

The presence of Marburg virus, a close relative to Ebola virus that also causes hemorrhagic disease in people, was detected in advance of any reported cases of human illness in Sierra Leone. However, the virus’s presence in bats means people who live nearby could be at risk for becoming infected. No outbreaks have been reported to date.

The findings, based on PCR, antibody and virus isolation data, were officially published today in the journal Nature Communications. Preliminary findings were announced earlier in December 2018 to ensure rapid notification to the citizens of Sierra Leone and the international health community. 

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