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Ebola virus: from wildlife to dogs

ome into contact with the virus, the scientists looked for the presence of specific Ebola virus antibodies in their blood (3). The percentage of dogs carrying such antibodies increases linearly and significantly the closer they are found to foci of the outbreaks. From 9 % in the two large cities of Gabon, antibody prevalence goes up to 25 % in the untouched villages of the epidemic area, reaching 32 % in the villages where human cases have been attributed to an infected-animal source. These domestic animals could therefore become infected and excrete virus over a given period, thus becoming a potential source of infection for humans. This could explain certain as yet un-elucidated human infections. It now appears necessary to assess the role of dogs in Ebola fever outbreaks and take this risk into account in epidemic-control measures. These animals could furthermore be used as indicators of the presence of the virus in the regions where, besides the appearance of cases of both animal and human deaths, there is no external sign as to whether or not Ebola virus is present.

This research work as a whole indicates the progress that has been made over the past years in the understanding the ways in which the virus circulates in its natural environment. Although the reservoir has not yet been identified, investigations are under way to identify the stages which, starting from this reservoir, lead to the emergence of human epidemics. Knowledge of the reservoir animal and of the virus's natural cycle should assist in devising suitable prevention strategies against Ebola epidemics.

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Marie Guillaume - DIC

(1) This research, conducted since 2001, involves a partnership between the IRD, the CIRMF (Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville, Gabon), the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention of Atlanta (USA) and the Centre Pasteur of Cameroon.

(2) See Scientific news sheet n° 192 ?Jabuary 2004, " Virus Ebola : les p
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Source:Institut de Recherche Pour le D茅veloppement


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