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Concept: Ebola

454

Ebola viruses (EBOV) cause often fatal hemorrhagic fever in several species of simian primates including human. While fruit bats are considered natural reservoir, involvement of other species in EBOV transmission is unclear. In 2009, Reston-EBOV was the first EBOV detected in swine with indicated transmission to humans. In-contact transmission of Zaire-EBOV (ZEBOV) between pigs was demonstrated experimentally. Here we show ZEBOV transmission from pigs to cynomolgus macaques without direct contact. Interestingly, transmission between macaques in similar housing conditions was never observed. Piglets inoculated oro-nasally with ZEBOV were transferred to the room housing macaques in an open inaccessible cage system. All macaques became infected. Infectious virus was detected in oro-nasal swabs of piglets, and in blood, swabs, and tissues of macaques. This is the first report of experimental interspecies virus transmission, with the macaques also used as a human surrogate. Our finding may influence prevention and control measures during EBOV outbreaks.

Concepts: Human, Influenza, Mammal, Primate, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Simian, Crab-eating Macaque

279

Background Ebola virus has been detected in the semen of men after their recovery from Ebola virus disease (EVD), but little information is available about its prevalence or the duration of its persistence. We report the initial findings of a pilot study involving survivors of EVD in Sierra Leone. Methods We enrolled a convenience sample of 100 male survivors of EVD in Sierra Leone, at different times after their recovery from EVD, and recorded self-reported information about sociodemographic characteristics, the EVD episode, and health status. Semen specimens obtained at baseline were tested by means of a quantitative reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) assay with the use of the target-gene sequences of NP and VP40. Results A total of 93 participants provided an initial semen specimen for analysis, of whom 46 (49%) had positive results on quantitative RT-PCR. Ebola virus RNA was detected in the semen of all 9 men who had a specimen obtained 2 to 3 months after the onset of EVD, in the semen of 26 of 40 (65%) who had a specimen obtained 4 to 6 months after onset, and in the semen of 11 of 43 (26%) who had a specimen obtained 7 to 9 months after onset; the results for 1 participant who had a specimen obtained at 10 months were indeterminate. The median cycle-threshold values (for which higher values indicate lower RNA levels) were 32.0 with the NP gene target and 31.1 with the VP40 gene target for specimens obtained at 2 to 3 months, 34.5 and 32.3, respectively, for specimens obtained at 4 to 6 months, and 37.0 and 35.6, respectively, for specimens obtained at 7 to 9 months. Conclusions These data showed the persistence of Ebola virus RNA in semen and declining persistence with increasing months since the onset of EVD. We do not yet have data on the extent to which positivity on RT-PCR is associated with virus infectivity. Although cases of suspected sexual transmission of Ebola have been reported, they are rare; hence the risk of sexual transmission of the Ebola virus is being investigated. (Funded by the World Health Organization and others.).

Concepts: DNA, Microbiology, Genome, RNA, Biological warfare, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Sierra Leone

244

A suspected case of sexual transmission from a male survivor of Ebola virus disease (EVD) to his female partner (the patient in this report) occurred in Liberia in March 2015. Ebola virus (EBOV) genomes assembled from blood samples from the patient and a semen sample from the survivor were consistent with direct transmission. The genomes shared three substitutions that were absent from all other Western African EBOV sequences and that were distinct from the last documented transmission chain in Liberia before this case. Combined with epidemiologic data, the genomic analysis provides evidence of sexual transmission of EBOV and evidence of the persistence of infective EBOV in semen for 179 days or more after the onset of EVD. (Funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and others.).

Concepts: Gene, Epidemiology, Genome, Biological warfare, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Incubation period

234

Background Data from studies in nonhuman primates suggest that the triple monoclonal antibody cocktail ZMapp is a promising immune-based treatment for Ebola virus disease (EVD). Methods Beginning in March 2015, we conducted a randomized, controlled trial of ZMapp plus the current standard of care as compared with the current standard of care alone in patients with EVD that was diagnosed in West Africa by polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) assay. Eligible patients of any age were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either the current standard of care or the current standard of care plus three intravenous infusions of ZMapp (50 mg per kilogram of body weight, administered every third day). Patients were stratified according to baseline PCR cycle-threshold value for the virus (≤22 vs. >22) and country of enrollment. Oral favipiravir was part of the current standard of care in Guinea. The primary end point was mortality at 28 days. Results A total of 72 patients were enrolled at sites in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the United States. Of the 71 patients who could be evaluated, 21 died, representing an overall case fatality rate of 30%. Death occurred in 13 of 35 patients (37%) who received the current standard of care alone and in 8 of 36 patients (22%) who received the current standard of care plus ZMapp. The observed posterior probability that ZMapp plus the current standard of care was superior to the current standard of care alone was 91.2%, falling short of the prespecified threshold of 97.5%. Frequentist analyses yielded similar results (absolute difference in mortality with ZMapp, -15 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, -36 to 7). Baseline viral load was strongly predictive of both mortality and duration of hospitalization in all age groups. Conclusions In this randomized, controlled trial of a putative therapeutic agent for EVD, although the estimated effect of ZMapp appeared to be beneficial, the result did not meet the prespecified statistical threshold for efficacy. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others; PREVAIL II ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02363322 .).

Concepts: Microbiology, Prediction interval, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Malaise, Crab-eating Macaque, Sierra Leone, Western Red Colobus

187

Among the survivors of Ebola virus disease (EVD), complications that include uveitis can develop during convalescence, although the incidence and pathogenesis of EVD-associated uveitis are unknown. We describe a patient who recovered from EVD and was subsequently found to have severe unilateral uveitis during convalescence. Viable Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV) was detected in aqueous humor 14 weeks after the onset of EVD and 9 weeks after the clearance of viremia.

Concepts: Microbiology, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Incubation period

176

Evidence for minimally symptomatic Ebola virus (EBOV) infection is limited. During the 2013-16 outbreak in West Africa, it was not considered epidemiologically relevant to published models or projections of intervention effects. In order to improve our understanding of the transmission dynamics of EBOV in humans, we investigated the occurrence of minimally symptomatic EBOV infection in quarantined contacts of reported Ebola virus disease cases in a recognized ‘hotspot.’

Concepts: Infectious disease, Biological warfare, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Malaise, Incubation period

158

In 1967, a woman became ill after exposure to a newly discovered pathogen that we now call Marburg virus, a member of the family Filoviridae (filoviruses), to which Ebola virus also belongs.(1) Testing of the semen of her husband, who had recovered from the disease 6 weeks previously, determined that her exposure was through sexual intercourse. This was the first confirmed case of sexual transmission of filovirus disease from a convalescent man. It was also the last…until recently. In March 2015, Ebola virus disease (EVD) developed in a Liberian woman after the country had been free from EVD for 30 . . .

Concepts: Microbiology, Ebola, Marburg virus, Mononegavirales, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Incubation period, Filoviridae, Hemorrhagic fevers

153

On September 30, 2014, the Bong County health officer notified the county Ebola task force of a growing outbreak of Ebola virus disease (Ebola) in Mawah, a village of approximately 800 residents. During September 9-16, household quarantine had been used by the community in response to a new Ebola infection. Because the infection led to a local outbreak that grew during September 17-20, county authorities suggested community quarantine be considered, and beginning on approximately September 20, the Fuamah District Ebola Task Force (Task Force) engaged Mawah leaders to provide education about Ebola and to secure cooperation for the proposed measures. On September 30, Bong County requested technical assistance to develop strategies to limit transmission in the village and to prevent spread to other areas. The county health team, with support from the Task Force and CDC, traveled to Mawah on October 1 and identified approximately two dozen residents reporting symptoms consistent with Ebola. Because of an ambulance shortage, 2 days were required, beginning October 1, to transport the patients to an Ebola treatment unit in Monrovia. Community quarantine measures, consisting of restrictions on entering or leaving Mawah, regulated river crossings, and market closures, were implemented on October 1. Local leaders raised concerns about availability of medical care and food. The local clinic was reopened on October 11, and food was distributed on October 12. The Task Force reported a total of 22 cases of Ebola in Mawah during September 9-October 2, of which 19 were fatal. During October 3-November 21, no new cases were reported in the village. Involving community members during planning and implementation helped support a safe and effective community quarantine in Mawah.

Concepts: Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Malaise, Incubation period, Liberia, Districts of Liberia, Bong County, Fuamah District

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Background In the wake of the recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in several African countries, the World Health Organization prioritized the evaluation of treatment with convalescent plasma derived from patients who have recovered from the disease. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma for the treatment of EVD in Guinea. Methods In this nonrandomized, comparative study, 99 patients of various ages (including pregnant women) with confirmed EVD received two consecutive transfusions of 200 to 250 ml of ABO-compatible convalescent plasma, with each unit of plasma obtained from a separate convalescent donor. The transfusions were initiated on the day of diagnosis or up to 2 days later. The level of neutralizing antibodies against Ebola virus in the plasma was unknown at the time of administration. The control group was 418 patients who had been treated at the same center during the previous 5 months. The primary outcome was the risk of death during the period from 3 to 16 days after diagnosis with adjustments for age and the baseline cycle-threshold value on polymerase-chain-reaction assay; patients who had died before day 3 were excluded. The clinically important difference was defined as an absolute reduction in mortality of 20 percentage points in the convalescent-plasma group as compared with the control group. Results A total of 84 patients who were treated with plasma were included in the primary analysis. At baseline, the convalescent-plasma group had slightly higher cycle-threshold values and a shorter duration of symptoms than did the control group, along with a higher frequency of eye redness and difficulty in swallowing. From day 3 to day 16 after diagnosis, the risk of death was 31% in the convalescent-plasma group and 38% in the control group (risk difference, -7 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -18 to 4). The difference was reduced after adjustment for age and cycle-threshold value (adjusted risk difference, -3 percentage points; 95% CI, -13 to 8). No serious adverse reactions associated with the use of convalescent plasma were observed. Conclusions The transfusion of up to 500 ml of convalescent plasma with unknown levels of neutralizing antibodies in 84 patients with confirmed EVD was not associated with a significant improvement in survival. (Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02342171 .).

Concepts: AIDS, Antibody, Biological warfare, Blood transfusion, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Incubation period, Crab-eating Macaque

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Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a contagious, severe and often lethal form of hemorrhagic fever in humans. The association of EVD outbreaks with forest clearance has been suggested previously but many aspects remained uncharacterized. We used remote sensing techniques to investigate the association between deforestation in time and space, with EVD outbreaks in Central and West Africa. Favorability modeling, centered on 27 EVD outbreak sites and 280 comparable control sites, revealed that outbreaks located along the limits of the rainforest biome were significantly associated with forest losses within the previous 2 years. This association was strongest for closed forests (>83%), both intact and disturbed, of a range of tree heights (5->19 m). Our results suggest that the increased probability of an EVD outbreak occurring in a site is linked to recent deforestation events, and that preventing the loss of forests could reduce the likelihood of future outbreaks.

Concepts: Forest, Biological warfare, Rainforest, Tropical rainforest, Ebola, Marburg virus, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Incubation period