Not too long ago, scientists have come across a previously undiscovered species of the Ebola virus. Called the Bombali virus is carried by at least two bat species in Sierra Leone. This represents the first time we found this virus in animals before coming across it in humans.
What’s clear and what’s unclear?
Right now, scientists believe that this virus is capable of causing infections in humans, although we don’t yet know if it can cause the ghastly disease. As we said, it represents the sixth Ebola virus, joining the other previously known species: Zaire virus, Sudan virus, Bundibugyo virus, Reston virus and Tai Forrest virus.
From these five species, aside the Reston virus, all of them are capable of leading to severe and often fatal disease in humans.
A devastating disease
The most harmful Ebola outbreak was induced by the Zaire virus and lasted from 2013 to 2016, affecting Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. More than 28000 people were infected and 11325 lost their lives. The current outbreak which takes place in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo is also caused by the Zaire virus.
The effort of finding and identifying Ebola viruses before they spread to us is made by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s PREDICT Ebola Host Project. Scientists collected samples from 5 cats, 46 rodents, 240 dogs and 244 bats which they then tested for Ebola viruses.
The results showed that four bats were infected with an Ebola virus, while the others received negative results. These bats were caught from three human dwellings that were at 12 miles from each other. A binding protein to facilitate the transfer of the virus to humans has yet to be found. Even if it finds of way of infecting people, it is still unclear that it will lead to symptoms.