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.
Though the findings are not yet confirmed, that 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. He also added, “This is early stages of the findings and called on the public to remain calm while awaiting further research
But the health ministry spokesperson and a researcher who worked on the discovery confirmed the findings to AFP.
The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to two neighbouring west African countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The West African outbreak was caused by the Zaire species, which has historically been the most deadly in humans since it was first identified in 1976.