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.