Evidence that Reston ebolavirus resides in live bats in the Philippines…

Update #1 18JUN2015
Jayme and colleagues find some
“smoking bats”-possible bat reservoir
species for Reston ebolavirus
in the Philippines.
In what I think is only the second example of this, a new collaborative study from Jayme and a team of eminent researchers in the Philippines, Australia, Vietnam and the United States, have reported the finding of Reston ebolavirus (RESTV) viral RNA and antibodies to viral infection in a range of different bat species….some more “smoking bats” – bats with more than just past evidence, sometimes considered vague and unreliable, of an ebolavirus being hosted by the animal.

The finding of RNA is not the same as actual infectious virus, but RNA is a very specific marker for the virus nonetheless. And the authors note that they didn’t want to kill the bats so only a small volume of sample was available-not enough for culture.

Leroy and colleagues had previously reported finding Zaire ebolavirus RNA and antibodies against this species of virus in Hypsignathus monstrosus, Epomops franqueti and Myonycteris torquatebats, all fruit-eating megabats of the family Pteropodidae. These are considered to be important reservoir hosts, yet they do not show signs of disease.[2] 

According to one of the authors on the latest study, bats in the Philippines also seemed clinically well…

@MackayIM all bats we sampled appeared clinically healthy.
— Jonathan Epstein (@EpsteinJon) July 17, 2015

Locating the Philippine RESTV sequences
on the ebolavirus phylogenetic tree.
Jayme et al. Virology J. (2105) 12:107.[1]
Jayme’s findings are important to the story of RESTV importations to animal facilities in the United States from the Philippines which occurred multiple times between 1989 to 1996. These fed into the dramatized retelling we know of as The Hot Zone. There were also signs of antibodies to the virus in humans working with infected non human primates in the Philippines in 1994, 1996 and 2008.

The amount of viral RNA in most of the bats was quite low – but was usually repeatably detectable. I’m a firm believer in PCR giving a specific signal when there is something specific present to detect (assuming it was done in a professional laboratory setting that reduces the risk of false positives-which it was in this instance). So low viral loads are not no viral loads.

RESTV RNA was repeatably found in oropharyngeal swabs taken from bats assigned to the following species:

…and in one sample from:
  • Chaerephon plicata (insectivorous bats)

What’s particularly interesting to me is that some of these bat species are found in Australia. However, keep in mind that the range of some (?many) bats may be underestimated. The example here is using the IUCN Red List’s described range for M. schreibersii-apparently it’s a bat that inhabits an area around the Mediterranean.[4] Last I looked, the Philippines is a bit south of there. In the past, as Wikipedia lists, a much bigger range was ascribed to this bat, also including Australia,[5] Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – among many others. Looks like there may be lots of work to do in the area of bat census.

Jayme and colleagues also sampled the blood of 61 flying foxes (of the family Pteropodidae) and antibodies were found by ELISA and Western blot in 3 Acerodon jubatus (giant golden crowned flying foxrange) bats and by ELISA alone in a Pteropus vampyrus (range). If you trust the test, then this indicates past exposure.

Superman and the Joker know very well – Bats can be very tricky. But at least this finding helps to further address the Riddle(r) of the reservoir. Now, if only we could only nail down the specific culprit(s) in West Africa.


  1. Molecular evidence of Ebola Reston virus infection in Philippine bats
  2. Fruit bats as reservoirs of Ebola virus
  3. Many details about bats to be found at the excellent IUCN Red List
  4. Population Structure of a Cave-Dwelling Bat, Miniopterus schreibersii: Does It Reflect History and Social Organization?
  5. Seasonal movements of the Schreibers’ bat, Miniopterus schreibersii, in the northern Iberian Peninsulahttp://bitly.com/1JoafBT


  1. Added bat specie range data (and discussion) from IUCN Red List and Wikipedia.

Havana: Afro-Cuban Culture

Repeating Islands


National Geographic (Travel) recently published an excerpt from a book by Keith Bellows, 100 Places That Can Change Your Child’s Life. Here are excerpts of the excerpt titled “Havana: Afro-Cuban Culture.”

To get an inside glimpse of daily life for the average Cuban, you and your kids should skip the hotels and stay in one of the hundreds of casas particulares sprinkled throughout Havana, the Cuban equivalent of B&Bs and one of the few forms of private enterprise permitted by the country’s socialist government.

Besides costing a fraction of a hotel, staying inside the home of a Cuban family puts your family in the middle of a residential neighborhood, where you will awake to the sounds of daily life—street vendors calling out pregones to advertise their wares, children playing ball in the street, and salsa music blasting from open windows. “Staying with a family was critical to get the…

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Palm Beach Chocolatier wins huge international award with Caribbean chocolates

Repeating Islands


Denise Castronovo’s tiny chocolate factory in downtown Stuart has won big again in the International Chocolate Awards, Liz Balmaseda reports for the Palm Springs Post.

The chocolatier, who uses rare heirloom cacao to make her heady confections in the fragrant shop, took gold and silver prizes in the ICA’s 2015 Americas Competition.

Two Castronovo Chocolate bars won in the “micro-batch,” single-origin, milk chocolate bar category: The chocolatier’s Rare Cacao Collection Colombia Sierra Nevada Dark Milk Chocolate 63%, a bar with “flavor notes of caramel,” took the gold. Her Dominican Republic Dark Milk Chocolate 50%, which “carries a toffee flavor,” won the silver.

The gold-winning bar sells for $48 for a four-pack on Castronovo’s site, the silver-winning bar for $42 per four-pack.

Castronovo also took an overall chocolate maker award – a gold prize – for her confections, made from single-farm cacao beans in batches smaller…

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Merkel ‘gambling away’ Germany’s reputation over Greece, says Habermas | Business | The Guardian

“I fear that the German government, including its social democratic faction, have gambled away in one night all the political capital that a better Germany had accumulated in half a century,” he told the Guardian. Previous German governments, he said, had displayed “greater political sensitivity and a post-national mentality”.

Habermas, widely considered one of the most influential contemporary European intellectuals, said that by threatening Greece with an exit from the eurozone over the course of the negotiations, Germany had “unashamedly revealed itself as Europe’s chief disciplinarian and for the first time openly made a claim for German hegemony in Europe.”

via Merkel ‘gambling away’ Germany’s reputation over Greece, says Habermas | Business | The Guardian.

#JusticeForGeorges: When Lebanon Is A Jungle, Not A Country | A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

Many in Lebanon keep weapons and knives in their cars. They roam our streets, threaten our security and our lives, aware that their threats will never be faced with any repercussions. A few months ago, Yves Nawfal was the victim of such people as well (link).

One day, someone you know or maybe you could fall victim to such people. I just hope our names don’t get turned into a hashtag just because our politicians are too comfortable keeping their henchmen out of order, our security apparatuses are too comfortable not making sure that anyone with finger can pull a trigger, and that the people of this country are apparently convinced that something happening to someone on the street can never happen to them.

Lebanon is not a country; Lebanon is a jungle. Deal with it accordingly.

via #JusticeForGeorges: When Lebanon Is A Jungle, Not A Country | A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog.