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  • Transmission occurs through contact with infected body fluids and tissue, which bats shed when they feed on fruit.

    Transmission occurs through contact with infected body fluids and tissue, which bats shed when they feed on fruit. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 December 2018

The Marburg virus has caused some 12 outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever, so far, on the continent.

Thursday the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the deadly Marburg virus - which is similar to Ebola - has been found in live bats in West Africa.

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Scientists discovered the existence of the virus in Sierra Leone, after launching researches relating to hemorrhagic disease reservoirs in the region.

In a statement Thursday, the CDC disclosed that five bats caught in Sierra Leone tested positive for the Marburg virus.

“We have known for a long time that rousette bats, which carry Marburg virus in other parts of Africa, also live in West Africa. So it’s not surprising,” CDC ecologist, Jonathan Towner, said in the release.

The host Egyptian fruit bats are carriers but do not experience the effects of the virus which pose a major threat to human beings. The Marburg virus has caused some 12 outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever, so far, on the continent.

In 2005, 90 percent of a group of 252 infected individuals, in Angola, died from infection. Additionally, a recent outbreak claimed the lives of three people in Uganda, last year.

The Marburg virus, which causes a deadly hemorrhagic fever, had gone undetected in West Africa prior to the bats testing positive for the disease, a U.S. government statement stated.

Symptoms and signs of the Marburg virus include headache, vomiting blood, muscle pains and bleeding through various orifices. Transmission occurs through contact with infected body fluids and tissue, which bats shed when they feed on fruit.

No human cases of the fever have been reported since the latest discovery.

The disease is on the World Health Organization's priority list.

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