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, 217 (4), 529-537

Serologic Evidence of Ebolavirus Infection in a Population With No History of Outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo


Serologic Evidence of Ebolavirus Infection in a Population With No History of Outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Sabue Mulangu et al. J Infect Dis.


Background: Previous studies suggest that cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) may go unreported because they are asymptomatic or unrecognized, but evidence is limited by study designs and sample size.

Methods: A large population-based survey was conducted (n = 3415) to assess animal exposures and behaviors associated with Ebolavirus antibody prevalence in rural Kasai Oriental province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Fourteen villages were randomly selected and all healthy individuals ≥1 year of age were eligible.

Results: Overall, 11% of subjects tested positive for Zaire Ebolavirus (EBOV) immunoglobulin G antibodies. Odds of seropositivity were higher for study participants older than 15 years of age and for males. Those residing in Kole (closer to the outbreak site) tested positive at a rate 1.6× higher than Lomela, with seropositivity peaking at a site located between Kole and Lomela. Multivariate analyses of behaviors and animal exposures showed that visits to the forest or hunting and exposure to rodents or duikers predicted a higher likelihood of EBOV seropositivity.

Conclusions: These results provide serologic evidence of Ebolavirus exposure in a population residing in non-EBOV outbreak locations in the DRC and define statistically significant activities and animal exposures that associate with EBOV seropositivity.

Keywords: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Ebola virus disease; Ebolavirus; serology; seroprevalence.


Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Map of the Democratic Republic of Congo and outbreak sites up to 2007, the year of the serosurvey. Shaded areas on map indicate past Ebola outbreak sites with 25-km buffer around the health zones in which the outbreak occurred. Outbreak locations include Yambuku (1976), Tandala (1977), Kikwit (1995), and Mweka/Luebo (2007). The solid thick line indicates the boundary of the Sankuru district, where the Kole and Lomela health zones are located.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Ebolavirus (EBOV) seropositivity (%) of study site villages by distance in kilometers from Mweka, the location of the EBOV outbreak during the time of this study, Sankuru Province, Democratic Republic of Congo.

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