Marburg virus (MARV) causes sporadic outbreaks of severe Marburg virus disease (MVD). Most MVD outbreaks originated in East Africa and field studies in East Africa, South Africa, Zambia, and Gabon identified the Egyptian rousette bat (ERB; Rousettus aegyptiacus) as a natural reservoir. However, the largest recorded MVD outbreak with the highest case–fatality ratio happened in 2005 in Angola, where direct spillover from bats was not shown. Here, collaborative studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Njala University, University of California, Davis USAID-PREDICT, and the University of Makeni identify MARV circulating in ERBs in Sierra Leone. PCR, antibody and virus isolation data from 1755 bats of 42 species shows active MARV infection in approximately 2.5% of ERBs. Phylogenetic analysis identifies MARVs that are similar to the Angola strain. These results provide evidence of MARV circulation in West Africa and demonstrate the value of pathogen surveillance to identify previously undetected threats.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)