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Researchers Find First Ebola Case May Be Linked To Bat Play

A healthcare worker dons in protective gear before entering an Ebola treatment center in the west of Freetown, Sierra Leone.  (AP Photo/Michael Duff)

A healthcare worker dons in protective gear before entering an Ebola treatment center in the west of Freetown, Sierra Leone. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)

Scotland has confirmed its first Ebola case.

Nurse Pauline Cafferkey volunteered with Save the Children in Sierra Leone. She returned to Glasgow this past weekend with fifty other volunteers — fellow health professionals from the National Health Service (NHS).  She was transferred to a London Hospital on Tuesday.  Cafferkey is believed to be in the very early stages of the infection and health officials are scrambling to trace the 71 passengers on Cafferkey’s internal British Airways flight – BA1478 – from Heathrow to Glasgow.

This news comes as we learn more about little Emile Ouamouno, the two-year-old Ebola victim believed to be the first case in the current outbreak. Researchers report in EMBO Molecular Medicine that the boy may have contracted the disease from bats.

During a four-week field trip to Meliandou, the boy’s 31-house Guinean village, Dr. Fabian Leendertz and colleagues from Germany’s Robert Koch Institute found a hollowed out tree that was the source of play for many children.  Located about 50 meters away from the Emile’s home, the tree housed a colony of fruit bats that may have carried the virus.  Emile died in December 2013 and often played in the tree, according to his friends and family.

While bushmeat is believed to be a source of the virus, Dr. Leendertz doesn’t believe it played a role in Emile’s case.  Rather, he contracted the disease from rat droppings within the tree.

This particular tree caught on fire in March 2014 resulting in an exodus of bats. Continue reading