NEW YORK (AP) – A team of researchers think they have pinpointed how the Ebola epidemic in West Africa started – with a small boy playing in a hollowed-out tree where infected bats lived.
The researchers explored an area in southeastern Guinea where the 2-year-old boy fell ill a year ago and died. He later became the first known case in the epidemic.
The scientists didn’t find the Ebola virus in the bats they tested. But they came away believing that the boy got it from bats that had lived in the hollow tree.
The Ebola epidemic is the worst in world history, blamed for killing nearly 8,000 people across West Africa this year.
The new study, led by researchers at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, was published Tuesday in EMBO Molecular Medicine.