The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released an image of scientists taking a swab from a straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum) to test it for zoonotic diseases such as the Ebola virus.

Through a new partnership with the Congolese Foundation for Medical Research (FCRM), blood samples and naso-oropharyngeal swabs will be safely collected from some 100 adult individuals associated with the bat trade to assess their potential disease exposure.

This new study will allow experts to better estimate the risk associated with the live trade of fruit bats and the consumption of bat meat, especially in urban areas.

Bat sampling in Congo recently took place near Brazzaville. WCS worked with hunters who usually sell their catches in bushmeat markets, and the samples will be tested for the presence of at least three viral families with high zoonotic potential.

None have tested positive for filovirus genetic material, but the targeted bat species are known to be reservoirs for filoviruses and to have antibodies to Ebola viruses.

Efforts to understand the potential source of this pathogen continue. Science has demonstrated a clear link between pandemics such as COVID-19 and increased human/wildlife interaction, offering critical insight and guidance for future prevention efforts.

Since 2012, WCS in partnership with @NIH, has tested more than 1,200 fruit bats across Congo for pathogens with zoonotic potential.