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.