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Abstract

What does the migration of bats have to do with Ebola epidemics? More than you (and even a lot of Ebola researchers) might think. In general, bats are very beneficial for us humans. They pollinate important food plants and also eat tons of insects that can either hurt us (like mosquitoes) or eat our crops (like caterpillars). However, like all animals, they have diseases and parasites, and sometimes these affect us. For example, some species of bats carry Ebola and, through little fault on their own, can pass it on to humans. Here we develop a mathematical model to predict how the seasonal flight patterns (migrations) of bats, their food sources, as well as the way they react to  Ebola infections, might help spread the Ebola virus. We show that these and other factors, like seasonal changes and the way humans change bats’ habitats by cutting down forests, need to be taken considered when trying to understand diseases like Ebola.

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