Join us for an evening with artist Rachel Sussman discussing her past decade of travel documenting the earth's most ancient beings
16+ Holdouts that Helped Shape the Manhattan Cityscape of Today
As the international medical community works to deal with the current Ebola outbreak, a lot of work is being done to isolate the disease vector, the animals that carry and spread the disease. Most theories currently point to bats as the carriers, although there is more work to be done before this is accepted as truth. This conclusion would not be surprising, however, as bats are known vectors for many other diseases. After years of diligent study, scientists have often been able to pinpoint not just the species that spreads the disease, but also the specific location where it began. Here are four such instances.
Marburg Virus: The Kitum Cave
Herd of elephants inside Kitum Cave, photo via Dr. Ian Redmond
In the 1980s, a new strain of Marburg — a hemorrhagic fever virus similar to Ebola — proved fatal to a Frenchman and a Danish teenager, both of whom had visited Kenya's Kitum Cave. Kitum is one of five "elephant caves" in Mount Elgon National Park, so-called because it has been dug out by a variety of animals seeking the salt in the cave's walls. Elephants in particular use their massive tusks to break off chunks of the wall, which they masticate to extract the salt. The cave is also home to a large population of fruit bats, which were proven, after decades of study, to be the Marburg vector: the virus was propagated by inhalation of powdered guano.
Lloviu Virus: The Lloviu Cave
Schreiber's long-fingered bat, image by C. Robiller/naturlichter.de via Wikimedia
Though it has not yet been shown to be pathogenic for humans, the Lloviu Virus, a filovirus like Ebola, has proven deadly to the bats that carry it. It was first discovered in 2002 in the Spanish cave Cuevo del Lloviu, and was also traced to substantial bat die-offs in other caves in France and Portugal. This was the first time a filovirus was found outside of Sub-Saharan Africa or the Phillipines, suggesting that filoviruses may be mutating.