UPDATE! Ebola: Bats Prematurely Blamed

In Merlin Tuttle’s blogged report titled, Ebola: Bats Prematurely Blamed, released on January 15, 2016, he summarized available knowledge of Ebola related to bats. He reported a prime example of extraordinarily biased sampling combined with premature speculation that had become entrenched as “fact” without the backing of credible scientific data.

As an update, he reports on a summary of current knowledge by Ewen Callaway, published in the January 12 issue of Nature News. Though his report still continues speculation of bats as suspected sources of Ebola, he notes that a growing number of virologists believe “the search has been too narrow.” Virologist Jens Kuhn of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is quoted as saying, “I don’t buy the bat story for Ebola virus, not at all.” He believes the bats are far too abundant and too closely associated with humans to explain an infection that has emerged just two dozen times over the past four decades. He suspects even arthropods or fungi to be potential sources.

Dozens of bats were tested near the site of the index case for the most recent Ebola outbreak, “but none—fruit-eating or otherwise—showed conclusive signs of Ebola infection.” Leading researchers are now cautioning against “focusing on any one animal.” A bit late, given that prematurely blamed bats have already been killed, the U.S. Agency for International Development, reportedly is now planning a two-year survey of animals ranging from rodents to livestock and domestic dogs and cats.

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