Persistence and genetic stability of Ebola virus during the outbreak in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1995

J Infect Dis. 1999 Feb;179 Suppl 1:S170-6. doi: 10.1086/514291.


Ebola virus persistence was examined in body fluids from 12 convalescent patients by virus isolation and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) during the 1995 Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Virus RNA could be detected for up to 33 days in vaginal, rectal, and conjunctival swabs of 1 patient and up to 101 days in the seminal fluid of 4 patients. Infectious virus was detected in 1 seminal fluid sample obtained 82 days after disease onset. Sequence analysis of an RT-PCR fragment of the most variable region of the glycoprotein gene amplified from 9 patients revealed no nucleotide changes. The patient samples were selected so that they would include some from a suspected line of transmission with at least three human-to-human passages, some from 5 survivors and 4 deceased patients, and 2 from patients who provided multiple samples through convalescence. There was no evidence of different virus variants cocirculating during the outbreak or of genetic variation accumulating during human-to-human passage or during prolonged persistence in individual patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Body Fluids / virology
  • Child
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Ebolavirus / genetics*
  • Ebolavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Female
  • Genes, Viral
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / transmission
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / virology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleocapsid Proteins / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Time Factors
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / genetics


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Viral
  • Nucleocapsid Proteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • envelope glycoprotein, Ebola virus
  • nucleocapsid protein, Ebola virus