According to a recent discovery by scientists, the most likely cause of the deadly outbreak of Ebola in West Africa was a young boy playing near a colony of virus-infected bats.

AIT reports that the scientist said the two year old boy described as patient zero became infected and was the first to die in his village in Meliandou, Guinea in December 2013.

‘Patient zero’ was Emile Ouamouno, and he was described as a playful toddler by his father Etienne.

Before his death, on December 6, 2013, Emile had been near a tree housing the free tailed bats.

The toddler came down with a high fever, began vomiting and passing black stools. It was after four days that the disease claimed Emile’s life, and he passed away on December 6, 2013.

His sister Philomene fell ill on Christmas Day last year, and was dead before New Year.

Their mother followed, along with their grandmother, Etienne said earlier this year. The disease then spread to other members of the community before spreading to other parts of Guinea.

The disease was only recognized as Ebola in March, and in the summer it began to spread across international borders, infecting people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, before patients were diagnosed in Spain, US and UK.

The epidemic represents the largest ever recorded Ebola outbreak, killing 7,800 people by December 17, 2014.

Fruit bats are the commonly suspected carriers of the Ebola virus and have been linked to previous outbreaks in Africa. They are often hunted for food, but the scientists say they are an unlikely source of infection.

The World Health Organisation recently revealed that, more than 20,000 people have been infected by Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since the outbreak of the virus began.

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