Conservation news

Audio: How an African bat might help us prevent future Ebola outbreaks

  • On this episode, we look at research into an African bat that might be the key to controlling future Ebola outbreaks.
  • Our guest is Sarah Olson, an Associate Director of Wildlife Health for the Wildlife Conservation Society. With Ebola very much in the news lately due to a recent outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Olson is here to tell us how research into hammer-headed fruit bats might help us figure out how Ebola is transmitted from animals to humans — and potentially control or prevent future outbreaks of the viral disease.
  • The bats don’t contract the disease, but there is evidence that they carry the virus. Olson is part of a study in the Republic of the Congo that seeks to understand how the Ebola virus is transmitted from carriers like hammer-headed fruit bats to other wildlife and humans.

On this episode, we look at research into an African bat that might be the key to controlling future Ebola outbreaks.

Listen here:

 

Our guest is Sarah Olson, an Associate Director of Wildlife Health for the Wildlife Conservation Society. With Ebola very much in the news lately due to a recent outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Olson is here to tell us how research into hammer-headed fruit bats might help us figure out how Ebola is transmitted from animals to humans — and potentially control or prevent future outbreaks of the viral disease.

As a wildlife epidemiologist, Olson’s main focus is great ape health. Chimpanzees and gorillas are just as susceptible to the Ebola virus as humans, however. And many Ebola outbreaks in human populations have, in turn, been started by people coming into contact with infected gorilla or chimp carcasses or bushmeat. But it might all come down to the hammer-headed fruit bat, which is believed to be a potential “reservoir” of the Ebola virus.

The bats don’t contract the disease, but there is evidence that they carry the virus. Olson is part of a study in the Republic of the Congo that seeks to understand how the Ebola virus is transmitted from carriers like hammer-headed fruit bats to other wildlife and humans. While the study aims to discover the mechanisms that trigger outbreaks of Ebola, Olson is here to tell us why this research is about much more than human and wildlife health.

Here’s this episode’s top news:

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A hammer-headed fruit bat that has been examined as part of a study into the origins of Ebola outbreaks in the Congo. Photo Credit: Sarah Olson/WCS.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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