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The sixth ebolavirus, Bombali virus, has been detected in insect-eating bats in Guinea. In addition to findings reported by researchers earlier this month, scientists from the University of California, Davis, detected the virus in Angolan free-tailed bats roosting inside people’s houses in Guéckedou and Kissidougou.
UC Davis One Health Institute also first discovered the Bombali virus in Angolan and little free-tailed bats in Sierra Leone. Bombali virus is distinct from the five previously known ebolaviruses, including Zaire ebolavirus, which caused a massive outbreak in West Africa in 2013-2016. Bombali virus was also found in an Angolan free-tailed bat in Kenya in May 2018. Research teams used similar methods to detect the virus and, collectively, results suggest Bombali virus has a wide distribution.
Scientists are trying to determine if Bombali virus has spilled over into humans or if it can cause disease in humans or animals. Results to date show that Bombali virus can infect human cells, and studies are ongoing to understand more about the risk it may pose.