Part of the show Forensics, DNA Fingerprinting and Human Origins
Writing in this week's edition of Nature, Eric Leroy and his colleagues have solved a thirty year puzzle about the lethal Ebola virus - where it comes from, and where it goes when it's not causing outbreaks amongst humans and primates. To track down Ebola's 'natural' host, the researchers set traps to catch all of the small animals that they could close to sites of Ebola outbreaks in Gabon. In all they collected over 1000 specimens which they then analysed for signs of the virus. The tests showed that three species of fruit bats were positive. The researchers suspect that the virus could be finding its way into humans when hungry locals capture and eat infected bats, and are urging people to avoid this practice - so we'd better keep an eye on Ozzy Osbourne if he pays a visit to the Congo at some time in the future.