A new Ebola virus has been found in bats in Sierra Leone, two years after the end of an outbreak that killed over 11,000 across West Africa, the government said on Thursday. It is not yet known whether the new Bombali species of the virus — which researchers say could be transmitted to humans — can develop into the deadly Ebola disease.
“At this time, it is not yet known if the Bombali Ebola virus has been transmitted to people or if it causes disease in people but it has the potential to infect human cells,” Amara Jambai, a senior ministry of health official said. “This is early stages of the findings,” Jambai added, calling on the public to remain calm while awaiting further research. A health ministry spokesman and a researcher who worked on the discovery confirmed the findings.
Researchers who found the new virus in the northern Bombali region are now working with the Sierra Leone government to determine whether any humans were infected. “As precautionary measures, people should refrain from eating bats,” Harold Thomas, health ministry spokesman said.