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Scientific Reports 2, Article number: 811 doi:10.1038/srep00811
Received 25 April 2012 Accepted 28 September 2012 Published 15 November 2012
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.
The present study provides evidence that infected pigs can efficiently transmit ZEBOV to NHPs in conditions resembling farm setting. Our findings support the hypothesis that airborne transmission may contribute to ZEBOV spread, specifically from pigs to primates, and may need to be considered in assessing transmission from animals to humans in general. The present experimental findings would explain REBOV seropositivity of pig farmers in Philippines2, 3 that were not involved in slaughtering or had no known contact with contaminated pig tissues. The results of this study also raise a possibility that wild or domestic pigs may be a natural (non-reservoir) host for EBOV participating in the EBOV transmission to other species in sub-Saharan Africa.
The UN's Ebola chief Anthony Branbury has warned that the Ebola virus could mutate and go airborne, which would make the epidemic much harder to control.
“The longer it moves around in human hosts in the virulent melting pot that is West Africa, the more chances increase that it could mutate,” Branbury told the Telegraph.
“It is a nightmare scenario [that it could become airborne] and unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out.” The comments were made before the first patient was found to have Ebola on US soil. The Ebola virus is spread through body fluids, which is why isolating patients is the most effective way to contain it. The fear that Ebola could change its method of transmission and spread through the air has been raised by infectious disease experts before. However, researchers are careful to note that while physically possible, such a mutation is highly unlikely. Read more: www.businessinsider.com...