Bats infected by ‘NEW EBOLA virus’ discovered by scientists in China

Tuesday, January 8, 2019
By Paul Martin

A NEWLY discovered virus closely related to deadly Ebola could spread “without warning with devastating consequences”, scientists have warned.

By Joshua Nevett
7th January 2019

A new strain of filovirus, an infectious virus that can cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans, has been found by researchers from Singapore’s Duke-NUS Medical School and China.

Their research shows the virus, found in fruit bats in China, is similar to the potentially fatal Marburg and Ebola viruses – two other forms of hemorrhagic fever which have ravaged parts of Africa.

Filoviruses, especially Ebola and Marburg, are capable of causing severe and often fatal fever diseases in humans by affecting organs and damaging blood vessels.

Tests found the virus, named Mengla after its place of origin in Yunnan Province, China, poses a potential risk of interspecies transmission.

Professor Wang Lin-Fa, director of infectious diseases research at Duke- NUS Medical School, said identifying the virus could help prevent an Ebola-style outbreak.

“Studying the genetic diversity and geographic distribution of bat-borne filoviruses is very important for risk assessment and outbreak prevention as this type of infectious disease can affect the general public without warning with devastating consequences,” Lin-Fa, a senior author of the study, said.

The Mengla virus is evolutionarily closely related to Ebola and Marburg and shares several similarities with them, analysis of filoviruses in bats showed.

Professor Patrick Casey, senior vice dean of research at Duke-NUS Medical School, hailed the benefits of “early identification” in stemming the effects of an outbreak.

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