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Ebola facts - Animal and Ebola

Published:Monday | October 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees, and fruit bats are said to be the main animal carriers of the Ebola virus. The World Health Organization suggested that the 2014 outbreak can be traced to fruit bats in the West Africa region. Guinea, where bat soup is a local delicacy, has reportedly banned the sale and consumption of bat meat.

Research has shown that gorillas and chimpanzees suffer massive population declines during Ebola outbreaks, with the virus killing an estimated 5,000 gorillas in Gabon and the Republic of the Congo from 2002-2003.

Dogs, pigs, and other domestic animals can be infected. One study noted that "dogs could be a potential source of human Ebola outbreaks and of virus spread", but they did not test if human infection could occur through licking, biting, or grooming.

One study also said cultural differences in behaviour and the diet of pet dogs may alter risks in Ebola transmission. Dogs studied in Gabon scavenged for their food, eating dead animals that could have exposed them to the virus, as opposed to dogs that are fed dog food.