Friday, July 11, 2008

BBC NEWS | Africa | Cave warning on Uganda bat virus

"The World Health Organization has warned people not to go into Ugandan caves with bats, after a Dutch tourist contracted the deadly Marburg virus."

The warning to not go into Ugandan caves with bats is an educated guess. Despite extensive investigation and monitoring, researchers were not able to find any trace of the virus in suspected caves. The placed sentinel animals (including primates) in caves for weeks and none of even caught a sniffle. However, the have been able to find anti-bodies to the virus in bats. Hence, the warning to avoid caves. But there is little evidence that avoiding caves is sufficient to avoid contracting the disease and that going into caves is sufficient to contract the disease. Avoiding caves would be a pretty conservative course of action.

Interestingly, the Marburg virus is named after a city in Germany, where laboratory technicians came down with the hemorrhagic fever after handling infected monkey tissue.

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