PLAGUE PANIC Deadly bum-bleeding Ebola-style virus found in Chinese bats sparking fears it could spread to humans ‘with devastating consequences’

Wednesday, January 9, 2019
By Paul Martin

The potentially dangerous Mengla virus comes from the Rousettus fruit bat in Yunnan Province

By Debbie White
8th January 2019

A DEADLY Ebola-related virus has been discovered in Chinese bats, sparking fears it could spread to humans “with devastating consequences,” warns an expert.

Mengla virus, from the Rousettus bat in Yunnan Province, China, is “evolutionarily closely related to Ebola virus and Marburg virus,” said Professor Linfa Wang, whose nickname is “Batman”.

The Shanghai-born Australian is a trained biochemist, who is director of emerging infectious diseases at the Duke-NUS Medical School, in Singapore.

His recent work, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, talks about discovering a new type of filovirus, which belong to a virus family (Filoviridae) and can cause severe haemorrhagic fever diseases in humans, resulting in a high number of deaths.

These include the likes of Ebola and Marburg viruses, the latter of which is a severe and highly fatal disease from the same family as the one that causes Ebola.

Prof Wang and fellow Duke-NUS researchers, in collaboration with scientists in China, have identified a new animal virus in Rousettus bats, which feed on fruit and roost in caves or disused tunnels.

Bat-borne diseases around the world pose a threat to human and animal health.

They named it Mengla (MLAV) virus because it was discovered in Mengla County, Yunnan Province in China.

The researchers tested MLAV and found that, like other filoviruses, it poses a potential risk of interspecies transmission.

Filoviruses, especially Ebola virus and Marburg virus, are notoriously pathogenic, producing diseases.

They can cause severe and often fatal fever diseases in humans by affecting many organs and damaging blood vessels – and can result in bleeding from orifices, including the rectum.

Prof Wang said that studying the geographic distribution of such bat-borne viruses was “very important” to assess the risk to humans.

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