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Concept: Viral hemorrhagic fever

462

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

272

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

233

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

186

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

183

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

175

Poor quality housing is an infringement on the rights of all humans to a standard of living adequate for health. Among the many vulnerabilities of those without adequate shelter is the risk of disease spread by rodents and other pests. One such disease is Lassa fever, an acute and sometimes severe viral hemorrhagic illness endemic in West Africa. Lassa virus is maintained in the rodent Mastomys natalensis, commonly known as the “multimammate rat,” which frequently invades the domestic environment, putting humans at risk of Lassa fever. The highest reported incidence of Lassa fever in the world is consistently in the Kenema District of Sierra Leone, a region that was at the center of Sierra Leone’s civil war in which tens of thousands of lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of dwellings destroyed. Despite the end of the war in 2002, most of Kenema’s population still lives in inadequate housing that puts them at risk of rodent invasion and Lassa fever. Furthermore, despite years of health education and village hygiene campaigns, the incidence of Lassa fever in Kenema District appears to be increasing. We focus on Lassa fever as a matter of human rights, proposing a strategy to improve housing quality, and discuss how housing equity has the potential to improve health equity and ultimately economic productivity in Sierra Leone. The manuscript is designed to spur discussion and action towards provision of housing and prevention of disease in one of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Lassa fever, Sierra Leone, Freetown, Kenema, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone, Kenema District

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

Lassa virus (LASV) is endemic to parts of West Africa and causes highly fatal hemorrhagic fever. The multimammate rat (Mastomys natalensis) is the only known reservoir of LASV. Most human infections result from zoonotic transmission. The very diverse LASV genome has 4 major lineages associated with different geographic locations. We used reverse transcription PCR and resequencing microarrays to detect LASV in 41 of 214 samples from rodents captured at 8 locations in Sierra Leone. Phylogenetic analysis of partial sequences of nucleoprotein (NP), glycoprotein precursor (GPC), and polymerase (L) genes showed 5 separate clades within lineage IV of LASV in this country. The sequence diversity was higher than previously observed; mean diversity was 7.01% for nucleoprotein gene at the nucleotide level. These results may have major implications for designing diagnostic tests and therapeutic agents for LASV infections in Sierra Leone.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Virus, RNA, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Lassa fever, Liberia, Sierra Leone

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