By Ibrahim Sorie Koroma
Health Education Officer-HED/MoHS
The Project Coordinator, James Bangura for the USAID-PREDICT Project has disclosed that the new Bombali Virus identified in Bomobali District, North of Sierra Leone is not an Ebola Disease. He underscored the fact that, the research has only identified a new strain of Ebola like virus in insect eating bats in Bombali district, adding that the new discovery is not a disease but a virus which the research has not been able to tell as to whether it can cause disease/ illness in humans when once it gets to the human population.
Mr. Bangura made the statement at a well-attended meeting organized by the Social Mobilization Unit of the Bombali District Health Management Team, Ministry of Health and Sanitation for district stakeholders on August 3rd at the Wusum Hotel Conference Hall in Makeni City.
While responding to concerns raised by stakeholders, Mr. Bangura stated that the research is an eye opener and early warning to community people, stakeholders, Health Workers, development partners and the country as a whole.
He added that 75% of the diseases that affect the human population come from animals, identifying a virus like this is timely for further research and action on the part of communities, country and partners. He referenced that the research work started since 2016 and PREDICT works in 30 countries around the world and continued that their focus in Sierra Leone was to identify which animal has the Ebola or Ebola like Virus.
Mr. Bangura reiterated that the Bombali Virus is a new strain of virus in the Ebola Virus Family. “This is the first time in the history of research and science that a new virus has been identified before reaching the human population, nowhere in the world has this been done” Mr. Bangura confirmed.
He continued that the research was done in six districts (Bombali, Koinadugu, Pujehun, Kambia, Kono and Western Area) targeting both wild life and domesticated animals and out of 8, 863 samples collected, only five bats linked to Bombali District had the new strain of Ebola like Bombali Virus.
He however, stated that the Bombali Virus is not the Zaire type that claimed the lives of many people in 2014-2015.
He educated stakeholders that the name Bombali Virus came about because the new virus was identified in Bombali District, just as Ebola Virus was discovered in Ebola River in 1976, 2007 Budibugyo Virus in Uganda, 1976 Sudan Virus in Sudan to name but a few.”
In science, research names are given to the area were the discovery is first made or the person who first made the discovery’. He noted. Mr Bangura warned community people against the interaction of these set of insect eating bats, because as he puts it, they live in the communities in thatch roofs, roof tops, palm trees, banana plantation etc.
He also advised community people not to kill them as they also have important role in the environment, citing that they are active eaters of mosquitoes thereby useful in the fight against Malaria and active pollinators. Mr. Bangura cautioned that no one should misunderstand the Bombali Virus for Ebola Virus Disease, as they only discovered Bombali Virus and not a disease.
He, however pointed out that research is still ongoing and they will come back to the community with the final outcome of the research. The research samples were first tested here in Sierra Leone at the Lab of the University of Makeni and further tested and confirmed at the University of Colombia. “|The lab outcome from the two universities was consistent, thus a new Bombali Virus was born”. Mr Bangura added.
©The Calabash Newspaper