RESEARCHERS have identified Bombali ebola virus in an Angolan free-tailed bat captured in the Taita Hills, southeast Kenya. No ebola viruses have been previously reported from wildlife in countries along the east coast of Africa.
There is no current evidence that Bombali ebola virus infects people.
Until recently, five ebola virus species were known, with three of these — Bundibugyo, Sudan and Zaire ebolaviruses — associated with large human outbreaks. The latter is responsible for the devastating 2013-16 outbreak in West Africa and the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, the reservoirs of ebola viruses have remained enigmatic, though fruit bats have been implicated and demonstrated as the reservoir for related Marburg virus. Last year a sixth ebola virus species, Bombali virus, was found in saliva and faeces from bats in Sierra Leone.