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Ebola spillover correlates with bat diversity

  • Shapiro, Julie Teresa1, 2, 3
  • Sovie, Adia R.2
  • Faller, Chelsey R.2, 4
  • Monadjem, Ara5, 6
  • Fletcher, Robert J. Jr1, 2
  • McCleery, Robert A.1, 2, 6
  • 1 University of Florida, 103 Black Hall, Gainesville, FL, USA , Gainesville (United States)
  • 2 University of Florida, 110 Newins-Ziegler Hall, Gainesville, FL, USA , Gainesville (United States)
  • 3 Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale, 46 Allée d’Italie, Lyon, 69634, France , Lyon (France)
  • 4 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1900 Kraft Drive, Suite, Blacksburg, VA, 250, USA , Blacksburg (United States)
  • 5 University of Eswatini, Private Bag 4, Kwaluseni, Eswatini , Kwaluseni (Swaziland)
  • 6 University of Pretoria, Private Bag 20, Hatfield, Pretoria, 0028, South Africa , Pretoria (South Africa)
Published Article
European Journal of Wildlife Research
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication Date
Jan 03, 2020
DOI: 10.1007/s10344-019-1346-7
Springer Nature


Some of the world’s deadliest diseases and greatest public health challenges are zoonoses from wildlife, such as Ebola (Ebolavirus). Due to the increasing number of cases in recent years, it has been widely hypothesized that increasing human population densities and anthropogenic disturbance largely explain outbreaks of Ebola virus disease in humans. While studies indicate that ebolaviruses are likely hosted by bats (Chiroptera), their role in outbreaks of the disease remains unclear. We tested whether bat species richness (total and within families), human population density, and anthropogenic disturbance explained the occurrence of Ebola virus disease spillovers within Africa using both generalized linear models and Maxent models. We demonstrate that spillover occurred in areas with high species richness of nycterid bats and low levels of both anthropogenic disturbance and human population density. Outbreaks of Ebola virus disease have devastating effects on people and communities and our results provide an important step toward understanding how and where Ebola virus disease may spill over to human populations.

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