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Dreaded Disease Traced to Cave

A little over a year ago, we reported that the dangerous Marburg virus had spread to Europe. Researchers have long searched for the source of this incurable disease, which caused an epidemic in Africa in 1998?2000. They've been looking for a host, which will be an animal that spreads the disease to humans that come into contact with it, but which is not affected by the disease itself. Now they think they may have finally found it in a bat cave in the Congo.

The miners who came down with the disease probably got it from bat droppings on the floor of the cave. Marburg is related to Ebola, another dangerous, incurable condition that kills almost everyone who becomes infected. Ebola has been traced to the eating of "bush meat" (from infected monkeys), which is a great delicacy in parts of Africa. This meat is even illegally smuggled into Europe for sale to African immigrants living there.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list Marburg as a "select agent" that may potentially be used in bioterrorism. There is currently no approved treatment or vaccine for the disease.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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