Sierra Leone

Deadly Marburg virus detected in bats in West Africa

Scientists gather bats in Uganda, searching for the reservoir of hemorrhagic diseases.
Jennifer McQuiston, Jonathan Towner and Brian Amman approach Bat Cave in Queen Elizabeth National Park on Aug. 25. Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Scientists hunting for the animal sources for deadly hemorrhagic fevers, such as the Ebola and Marburg viruses, have made the first discovery of a Marburg reservoir in West Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

Why it matters: After the deadly West Africa outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014–2016, scientists have been seeking more information about how animals, like the Egyptian fruit bats in Sierra Leone now found to be carrying Marburg, transmit the disease to humans. This discovery in West Africa means there's a greater risk there for human infection.

Expert Voices

Sierra Leone only the latest African country to rethink a Chinese loan

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on September 3, 2018 in Beijing, China.
Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio with Chinese President Xi Jinping on September 3, 2018, in Beijing. Photo: Andy Wong via Getty Images

Last month, Sierra Leone canceled a Chinese loan to build the $318 million Mamamah International Airport in Freetown, a legacy project of the country's previous government. The World Bank and IMF raised concerns about Sierra Leone's debt, and the new government concluded the project was "uneconomical."

Why it matters: U.S. politicians regularly accuse China of debt-trap diplomacy, portraying African countries as victims of bad Chinese deals. But this cancellation is the latest example of African governments' wielding agency in their relations with China: African countries do have a say, and they have room to avoid the pitfalls of unsound projects both before and after they’ve signed.

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