Similar: The Lloviu virus is similar to the deadly Ebola strain (pictured)
A virus that is similar to the deadly Ebola strain has been discovered in Europe for the first time.
Scientists found the Lloviu virus – a filovirus normally found in East Africa and the Philippines – in a group of bats living in caves in Asturias and Cantabria, in northern Spain.
Researchers told the journal PLOS Pathogens that filoviruses were among the deadliest in humans – and that the study showed how the strains were developing and spreading.
Study author Gustavo Palacios said: ‘The detection of this novel filovirus in Spain is intriguing because it is completely outside of its previously described range.
‘We need to ascertain whether other filoviruses native to Europe exist, and more importantly, if and how it causes disease.’
Scientists analysed samples from the lungs, livers, spleens, throats and brains from 34 bats found in the caves.
The decision to start the study was taken after bats from one particular species started dying, without explanation, in France, Spain and Portugal.
They screened the samples for viruses, using the polymerase chain reaction – a molecular technique that allows scientists to amplify genetic material.
They then compared the viruses to other well-known filovirus genomes, and found that the Lloviu virus represented a class of viruses distantly related to all Ebola viruses.
Discovery: Scientists found the Lloviu virus - a filovirus normally found in East Africa and the Philippines - in groups of bats living in caves in Asturias and Cantabria, in northern Spain (file picture of a bat)
They also found it may have diverged from Ebola viruses about 68,000 years ago.
CII Director Dr Ian Lipkin told the journal: ‘The Lloviu virus discovery highlights how much we still need to learn about the world of emerging infectious diseases and the importance of global collaboration and the One Health initiative in addressing the challenge.’
Co-author Ana Negredo added: ‘The study is an opportunity to advance the knowledge of filoviruses’ natural cycle.’
The research was conducted by scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Spain and Roche Life Sciences.
The Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe, Grupo Asturiano para el Estudio y Conservación de los Murciélagos, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas and the Complutense University in Spain also took part.
Eine Behausung voller Gold und Jade
wird nicht lange sicher sein
Stolz zu sein auf Reichtum und Ehre
ist die Ursache des Zusammenbruchs