Extensive Survey and Analysis of Factors Associated with Presence of Antibodies to Orthoebolaviruses in Bats from West and Central Africa

Viruses. 2023 Sep 15;15(9):1927. doi: 10.3390/v15091927.


The seroprevalence to orthoebolaviruses was studied in 9594 bats (5972 frugivorous and 3622 insectivorous) from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Guinea, with a Luminex-based serological assay including recombinant antigens of four orthoebolavirus species. Seroprevalence is expressed as a range according to different cut-off calculations. Between 6.1% and 18.9% bat samples reacted with at least one orthoebolavirus antigen; the highest reactivity was seen with Glycoprotein (GP) antigens. Seroprevalence varied per species and was higher in frugivorous than insectivorous bats; 9.1-27.5% versus 1.3-4.6%, respectively. Seroprevalence in male (13.5%) and female (14.4%) bats was only slightly different and was higher in adults (14.9%) versus juveniles (9.4%) (p < 0.001). Moreover, seroprevalence was highest in subadults (45.4%) when compared to mature adults (19.2%), (p < 0.001). Our data suggest orthoebolavirus circulation is highest in young bats. More long-term studies are needed to identify birthing pulses for the different bat species in diverse geographic regions and to increase the chances of detecting viral RNA in order to document the genetic diversity of filoviruses in bats and their pathogenic potential for humans. Frugivorous bats seem more likely to be reservoirs of orthoebolaviruses, but the role of insectivorous bats has also to be further examined.

Keywords: Africa; Ebola; antibody; bats; virus.