Assessment of the risk of Ebola virus transmission from bodily fluids and fomites

J Infect Dis. 2007 Nov 15;196 Suppl 2:S142-7. doi: 10.1086/520545.

Abstract

Although Ebola virus (EBOV) is transmitted by unprotected physical contact with infected persons, few data exist on which specific bodily fluids are infected or on the risk of fomite transmission. Therefore, we tested various clinical specimens from 26 laboratory-confirmed cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, as well as environmental specimens collected from an isolation ward, for the presence of EBOV. Virus was detected by culture and/or reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction in 16 of 54 clinical specimens (including saliva, stool, semen, breast milk, tears, nasal blood, and a skin swab) and in 2 of 33 environmental specimens. We conclude that EBOV is shed in a wide variety of bodily fluids during the acute period of illness but that the risk of transmission from fomites in an isolation ward and from convalescent patients is low when currently recommended infection control guidelines for the viral hemorrhagic fevers are followed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Body Fluids / virology*
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Ebolavirus / genetics
  • Ebolavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Fomites / virology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / mortality
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Risk Factors
  • Saliva / virology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Uganda / epidemiology
  • Virus Shedding