Sunday, June 4, 2017

Risking Your Life for Science ... and Bats #Science

Ithaka ran an article earlier in which the premise was advanced that courage without purpose is just foolhardiness.  (Ithaka:  Courage without Purpose is Only Foolhardiness | Take a Dive, Justin Casquejo)

When we see a scientist risking his life due to infection from Ebola and yet he continues his research in the field to validate which creature harbors the disease and it's thought to be bats, the Rockhouse swings up a major salute for the self-sacrificing courage of the work and the good doctor and his team show the finest kind of courage with purpose.


In the middle of the night in a patch of rainforest in the Republic of the Congo, Vincent Munster and his team are catching fruit bats and sampling them. They are looking for Ebola. Munster, a virus ecologist, usually works in a high security lab in the Rocky Mountains. But for several years now, he has been coming back to the same patch of forest in nothern Congo to sample hammer-headed fruit bats. Reserachers say this kind of longitudinal sampling is needed, if they want to understand where exactly the Ebola virus lurks and what causes it to jump from bats to other mammals including people with no discernable pattern. Hammer-headed fruit bats are the prime suspects for the Ebola reservoir, but no live virus has ever been isolated from a bat.

Science:  Bat patrol

Note:  Science seems to prefer cryptic titles of that nature.

You have something of a scientific conundrum when the suspected harbor doesn't reveal any live virus.  However, the ongoing risk of infection from this bat or whatever else harbors the disease is constant while he remains in the field.

Much to the chagrin of the popular press, opinions aren't of much use unless you're willing to determine if they're valid.  The research must locate live virus in these bats or they must be suspecting the wrong creature ... or it's a rare subpopulation of them and they didn't find it yet.

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