Ebola may not be the only viral threat to come out of Africa. Another family of viruses, deadly in some cases, may have already jumped from fruit bats into humans in Africa, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Communications.
The study provides the first, preliminary scientific evidence that “spillover” of henipaviruses into human populations is underway.
Henipaviruses are known to cause rare infections, with some strains harmless, and others with mortality rates approaching 90 percent (similar rates to Ebola). This family of viruses has been a concern since two of its members, Nipah and Hendra, emerged in Australia and Southeast Asia less than 20 years ago.
Henipavirus infections were thought to be confined to undeveloped areas near bat habitats in Asia and Australia until a recent, surprising study found that the common fruit bat species across Africa were carrying several related viruses. The current study set…
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