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Survey of Ebola Viruses in Frugivorous and Insectivorous Bats in Guinea, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2015-2017

Helene M De Nys et al. Emerg Infect Dis.

Abstract

To clarify the role of bats in the ecology of Ebola viruses, we assessed the prevalence of Ebola virus antibodies in a large-scale sample of bats collected during 2015-2017 from countries in Africa that have had previous Ebola outbreaks (Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo) or are at high risk for outbreaks (Cameroon). We analyzed 4,022 blood samples of bats from >12 frugivorous and 27 insectivorous species; 2-37 (0.05%-0.92%) bats were seropositive for Zaire and 0-30 (0%-0.75%) bats for Sudan Ebola viruses. We observed Ebola virus antibodies in 1 insectivorous bat genus and 6 frugivorous bat species. Certain bat species widespread across Africa had serologic evidence of Zaire and Sudan Ebola viruses. No viral RNA was detected in the subset of samples tested (n = 665). Ongoing surveillance of bats and other potential animal reservoirs are required to predict and prepare for future outbreaks.

Keywords: Africa; Cameroon; EVD; Ebola; Ebola virus; Ebola virus disease; Ebola virus infection; Eidolon helvum; Epomophorus gambianus; Guinea; Hypsignathus monstrosus; Lissonycteris angolensis; Luminex; Micropteropus pusillus; Mops sp.; Rousettus aegyptiacus; Sudan strain; Zaire strain; bats; cross-reactivity; cutoff; ecology; frugivorous bats; insectivorous bats; serology; seroprevalence; survey; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; viruses; zoonoses.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Study sites for bat blood sample collection for Ebola virus serology, Guinea, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2015–2017. Yellow dots indicate sampling sites for bats in our study, and green dots indicate sampling sites in previously published studies. Dark red shading indicates highest and light yellow lowest risk for Ebola virus spillover events. Study sites are numbered: 1, Koundara; 2, Conakry; 3, Kindia; 4, Mamou; 5, Kankan; 6, Gueckedou; 7, Macenta; 8, Nzerekore; 9, Mbam Djerem; 10, Libellengoi Sud; 11, Yaoundé; 12, Ekom; 13, North Dja; 14, Bipindi; 15, Mbalmayo; 16, Djoum; 17, Mambele; 18, Campo M’an; 19, Boma; 20, Kimpese; 21, Zongo. Countries with reported index Ebola cases and countries without such cases but deemed at risk are indicated. Map of Africa adapted from Pigott et al. (5) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) by adding locations of collection sites.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Bat blood samples reactive to Ebola virus antigens, by statistical method used to determine cutoff, Guinea, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2015–2017. Samples from frugivorous bats (n = 1,736) and insectivorous bats (n = 2,199) were tested by Luminex assay with GP, NP, and VP of the Zaire and Sudan lineages; GP and VP of the Bundibugyo lineage; and GP of the Reston lineage. GP, glycoprotein; K, Kissoudougou strain; M, Mayinga strain; NP, nucleoprotein; VP, viral protein 40.

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