Resurgence of Ebola virus in 2021 in Guinea suggests a new paradigm for outbreaks

Nature. 2021 Sep;597(7877):539-543. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03901-9. Epub 2021 Sep 15.

Abstract

Seven years after the declaration of the first epidemic of Ebola virus disease in Guinea, the country faced a new outbreak-between 14 February and 19 June 2021-near the epicentre of the previous epidemic1,2. Here we use next-generation sequencing to generate complete or near-complete genomes of Zaire ebolavirus from samples obtained from 12 different patients. These genomes form a well-supported phylogenetic cluster with genomes from the previous outbreak, which indicates that the new outbreak was not the result of a new spillover event from an animal reservoir. The 2021 lineage shows considerably lower divergence than would be expected during sustained human-to-human transmission, which suggests a persistent infection with reduced replication or a period of latency. The resurgence of Zaire ebolavirus from humans five years after the end of the previous outbreak of Ebola virus disease reinforces the need for long-term medical and social care for patients who survive the disease, to reduce the risk of re-emergence and to prevent further stigmatization.