Oxford University Model Predicts 15 Countries at Risk of Ebola Outbreak

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A new model devised by Oxford University predicts 15 countries in Africa to be at risk of animal-to-human transmissions of the deadly Ebola virus due to their geographic location, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

MOSCOW, September 9 (RIA Novosti) – A new model devised by Oxford University predicts 15 countries in Africa to be at risk of animal-to-human transmissions of the deadly Ebola virus due to their geographic location, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

"Our map shows the likely ‘reservoir’ of Ebola virus in animal populations, and this is larger than has been previously appreciated," the study's author Nick Golding, a researcher at Oxford University’s Department of Zoology was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

"This does not mean that transmission to humans is inevitable in these areas; only that all the environmental and epidemiological conditions suitable for an outbreak occur there,’" Golding added.

The model traces the previously nonexistent Ebola virus found in West Africa to fruit bats, capable of spreading the disease to other animals and humans. Their migratory activities spread the disease to the animal kingdom while bush meat hunting practices put humans who prepare and consume infected animals at risk, the Guardian reported. The bats inhabit a dense forest which geographically puts 15 countries at risk including Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Togo, the United Republic of Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar and Malawi.

The frequently fatal Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of the infected. The worst Ebola epidemic in history began in southern Guinea at the end of 2013 and soon spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The outbreak has claimed over 2,200 lives in West Africa, according to the latest WHO estimates. A total of 4,293 Ebola cases were reported in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone, Nigeria and Senegal since the beginning of the current outbreak.

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