Extensive Serological Survey of Multiple African Nonhuman Primate Species Reveals Low Prevalence of Immunoglobulin G Antibodies to 4 Ebola Virus Species

J Infect Dis. 2019 Oct 8;220(10):1599-1608. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiz006.


Bats are considered a reservoir species for Ebola viruses, but nonhuman primates (NHPs) have represented a source of infection in several outbreaks in humans. Here we report serological screening of blood or fecal samples from monkeys (n = 2322) and apes (n = 2327). Thirty-six NHP species from Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ivory Coast were tested with a sensitive and specific Luminex-based assay for immunoglobulin G antibodies to 4 Ebola virus species. Using the simultaneous presence of antibodies to nucleoproteins and glycoproteins to define positivity, we showed that specific Ebola virus antibodies are not widespread among NHPs. Only 1 mustached monkey (Cercopithecus cephus) from Cameroon was positive for Sudan ebolavirus. These observations support that NHPs are most likely intermediate hosts for Ebola viruses. With the increasing frequency of Ebola outbreaks, it is crucial to identify the animal reservoir and understand the ecology of Ebola viruses to inform disease control.

Keywords: Africa; Ebola; ape; monkey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Ape Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Ape Diseases / immunology
  • Cameroon
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ebolavirus / immunology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / immunology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / veterinary*
  • Hominidae
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood*
  • Monkey Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Monkey Diseases / immunology
  • Primates
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G