Marburg and Ebola viruses can cause large hemorrhagic fever (HF) outbreaks with high case fatality (80-90%) in human and great apes. Identification of the natural reservoir of these viruses is one of the most important topics in this field and a fundamental key to understanding their natural history. Despite the discovery of this virus family almost 40 years ago, the search for the natural reservoir of these lethal pathogens remains an enigma despite numerous ecological studies. Here, we report the discovery of Marburg virus in a common species of fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) in Gabon as shown by finding virus-specific RNA and IgG antibody in individual bats. These Marburg virus positive bats represent the first naturally infected non-primate animals identified. Furthermore, this is the first report of Marburg virus being present in this area of Africa, thus extending the known range of the virus. These data imply that more areas are at risk for MHF outbreaks than previously realized and correspond well with a recently published report in which three species of fruit bats were demonstrated to be likely reservoirs for Ebola virus.
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