Fruit bats are suspected to be a natural reservoir of filoviruses, including Ebola and Marburg viruses. Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay based on the viral glycoprotein antigens, we detected filovirus-specific immunoglobulin G antibodies in 71 of 748 serum samples collected from migratory fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) in Zambia during 2006-2013. Although antibodies to African filoviruses (eg, Zaire ebolavirus) were most prevalent, some serum samples showed distinct specificity for Reston ebolavirus, which that has thus far been found only in Asia. Interestingly, the transition of filovirus species causing outbreaks in Central and West Africa during 2005-2014 seemed to be synchronized with the change of the serologically dominant virus species in these bats. These data suggest the introduction of multiple species of filoviruses in the migratory bat population and point to the need for continued surveillance of filovirus infection of wild animals in sub-Saharan Africa, including hitherto nonendemic countries.
Keywords: Ebola virus; Marburg virus; Zambia; filovirus; fruit bat; specific antibody.
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