Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 10 (12), 2073-81

Potential Mammalian Filovirus Reservoirs


Potential Mammalian Filovirus Reservoirs

A Townsend Peterson et al. Emerg Infect Dis.


Ebola and Marburg viruses are maintained in unknown reservoir species; spillover into human populations results in occasional human cases or epidemics. We attempted to narrow the list of possibilities regarding the identity of those reservoir species. We made a series of explicit assumptions about the reservoir: it is a mammal; it supports persistent, largely asymptomatic filovirus infections; its range subsumes that of its associated filovirus; it has coevolved with the virus; it is of small body size; and it is not a species that is commensal with humans. Under these assumptions, we developed priority lists of mammal clades that coincide distributionally with filovirus outbreak distributions and compared these lists with those mammal taxa that have been tested for filovirus infection in previous epidemiologic studies. Studying the remainder of these taxa may be a fruitful avenue for pursuing the identity of natural reservoirs of filoviruses.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Distributional summary of A) Ebola and B) Marburg viruses, with predicted distributions based on ecologic niche models of outbreak coordinates (13). Darker shades of red represent increasing confidence in prediction of potential presence. Disease outbreaks attributed to various filovirus species are represented as follows: open square, Ebola Ivory Coast, open circle, Ebola Zaire, open triangle, Ebola Sudan, dotted square, Marburg.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Summary of numbers per species that have been tested in studies seeking filovirus infections in wild mammals (Table A1). A) Theoretical probabilities of detecting the reservoir in samples of particular sizes, given prevalences of 0.1%, 1%, and 10%. B) Frequency (1–11 species) with which species have been tested for filoviruses.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 29 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Heymann DL, Weisfeld JS, Webb PA, Johnson KM, Cairns T, Berquist H Ebola hemorrhagic fever: Tandala, Zaire, 1977–1978. J Infect Dis. 1980;142:372–6 10.1093/infdis/142.3.372 - DOI - PubMed
    1. Georges AJ, Leroy E, Renaut AA, Benissan CT, Nabias RJ, Ngoc MT, et al. Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in Gabon, 1994-1997: Epidemiologic and health control issues. J Infect Dis. 1999;179:S65–75 10.1086/514290 - DOI - PubMed
    1. Formentry P, Boesch C, Wyers M, Steiner C, Donati F, Dind F, et al. Ebola virus outbreak among wild chimpanzees living in a rain forest of Cote d'Ivoire. J Infect Dis. 1999;179:S120–6 10.1086/514296 - DOI - PubMed
    1. Miranda ME, Ksiazek TG, Retuya TJ, Khan AS, Sanchez A, Fulhorst CF, et al. Epidemiology of Ebola (subtype Reston) virus in the Philippines, 1996. J Infect Dis. 1999;179:S115–9 10.1086/514314 - DOI - PubMed
    1. Joffe H, Haarhoff G Representations of far-flung illnesses: the case of Ebola in Britain. Soc Sci Med. 2002;54:955–69 10.1016/S0277-9536(01)00068-5 - DOI - PubMed

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources