Insect-eating bats implicated as Ebola outbreak source

Tree in Guinea harbored suspects in infection of first victim

A hollow tree

GROUND ZERO  This hollow tree once housed insect-eating bats that may have been the source of the Ebola epidemic. The first person to contract Ebola in the outbreak was a toddler who often played in the tree.

The epicenter of the Ebola epidemic may be a hollow tree in Guinea.

A 2-year-old boy named Emile Ouamouno, who is thought to be the first person to contract Ebola in this outbreak, often played with other children in the hollow tree near his home in the village of Meliandou, Guinea. That tree was inhabited by small insect-eating free-tailed bats of a species (Mops condylurus) that previous research has suggested may harbor Ebola, Fabian Leendertz of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin and colleagues report December 30 in EMBO Molecular Medicine.


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