Let’s hope that Bats may provide cure to Ebola Virus

The Ebola virus discovered 37 years ago is continuing to confound people and becoming a favorite subject amongst sci-fi buffs. Ebola virus is invisible to the naked eye, most feared human pathogen because of its deadly virus.

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Ebola virus infection

The impact of Ebola virus in people is largely the result of the activation of the immune system, rather than the virus itself. During the initial stages of infection, Ebola shuts off the immune response to the virus, resulting in rapid viral replication and a delay in the production of antibodies.The immune system is damage once the virus is out of control and then results in over-activation of the immune response. The role of the immune system is to eliminate the virus becomes dangerous to the host or an infected patient when it is activated at extreme levels. This will results in widespread tissue damage, leading to internal and external bleeding, decreased kidney and liver function and ultimately, in many cases, death. 

Bats as natural host species

Bats are the natural host species for Ebola and mostly for a wide range of viruses, many of which can be fatal when transmitted to humans. There are More than 100 viruses that have been identified in bats and this number is getting higher each year.

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Bats have the ability to harbor viruses such as Ebola and don’t display clinical signs of disease however once the virus infects other species, it has the potential to cause widespread death and disease. Interestingly, how is it that bat are resistant to a virus that kills up to 90% of people it infects?

Bat carries virus families

DeeAnn Reeder a Bucknell University biologist studies about bats in Pennsylvania and in South Sudan, one of the places where Ebola first emerged. An odd thing happened when she aggravated the immune system of fruit bats. The bats got colder. 

Ebola, Marburg, rabies, MERS, SARS, Nipah and Hendra have something in common. They appear to originate in bats. Even diseases such as hepatitis C and measles are also descendants of bat bugs.

Other mammals spread diseases Example is the rodents that gives Hantavirus, a respiratory illness that kills about half its human victims. Just like bats. The viruses spread from bats to people when humans trespass on their territory and come into contact with their saliva, urine, feces, or uncooked meat- because some part in Africa, people eat bats. Bats also infect other animals then spread germs.

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Bats eat large numbers of insects or pollinate fruit trees and spread seeds and killing them is not a solution.

Bats might have more viruses simply because they are ancient creatures that have had lots of time to learn to live peaceably with pathogens. Now they are exposing human bodies to viruses humans have never encountered before.

DeeAnn Reeder will now study whether bat immune systems change during different times of year, during pregnancy, or when food is scarce.

She wants to look at the bat transcriptome, a record of every gene expressed in an animal at a given time. Again, the goal is to see how the immune system changes.

“The next thing that emerges from the forest may be worse,” Reeder said. 

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What the future holds in

Despite the wealth of research that advances our understanding of Ebola virus, progress in the development of vaccines and antiviral drugs has been slow. But this might be the key.

Researchers and drug companies are racing to develop treatments and vaccines targeting the Zaire ebolavirus, the strain that is causing the current outbreak.

We should have hope in everything.

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