Ebola virus circulation in a non-epidemic Guinean rural area: A mixed-method approach to assessing endemicity

Int J Infect Dis. 2024 Jun 21:146:107129. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2024.107129. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of orthoebolavirus antibodies in Madina Oula, a non-epidemic rural area in Guinea, in 2022.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted from March 14 to April 3, 2022 involving recording household and socio-demographic characteristics, lifestyle data, and collecting dried blood spots from 878 individuals in 235 households. Dried blood spots were tested using multiplex serology to detect antibodies to different orthoebolaviruses: Ebola virus, Bundibugyo virus, Sudan virus, Reston virus, and Bombali virus. Seroprevalence was estimated with a 95% confidence interval and a Z-test was performed to compare the seropositivity between children aged under 15 years and those over 15 years. Household and participant characteristics were analyzed using descriptive statistic, and socio-historical conditions were discussed.

Results: The serological analysis conducted in 2022 on 878 participants revealed varying reactivity to orthoebolavirus antigens, notably, with glycoprotein antigens, particularly, glycoprotein Sudan virus (16%). A total of 21 samples exhibited reactivity with at least two antigens, with a median age of 27 years (interquartile range 10.00-35.00), ranging from 2 to 80 years. There is no significant difference between seropositivity in children aged under 15 (2.86%) years and those over 15 (2.14%) years. The antibody presence varied per village, with the highest prevalence observed in Ouassou and Dar-es-Salam.

Conclusions: Serological data in a region unaffected by recent Ebola outbreaks indicate possible orthoebolavirus endemicity, emphasizing the need for preparedness against known or novel orthoebolaviruses with potential cross-reactivity.

Keywords: Ebola virus disease; Guinea rural population; Outbreak; Seroprevalence; Surveillance strategies.