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Six of the 178 people who had contact with the infected monkeys at the Reston Quarantine Unit seroconverted. All six of the individuals worked with the primates. None of the six who seroconverted developed a filovirus-related illness. Of them, four (all of whom were animal handlers at one quarantine facility) had serologic evidence of recent infection with Ebola-Reston. It is likely that one of the four infected himself when he cut his finger while performing a necropsy on an infected monkey. The mode of transmission for the other three handlers is not known. The remaining two people were seropositive at low titer and had evidence of past infection. One of these two people is a worker at a facility that temporarily houses nonhuman primates before delivery to U.S. quarantine facilities and had had regular contact with quarantined nonhuman primates for three years. The second person was an employee at Hazleton's Texas Primate Center.
CDC researchers conducted an additional study on the prevalence of seropositivity to filoviruses. They tested 550 people with varying levels of exposure to monkeys (or monkey tissues or body fluids) with an indirect immunofluorescence assay test (IFAT) and confirmed the results using Western blot. 42 of the 550 (7.6%) people tested were positive to at least one of the filoviruses (EBO-Z, EBO-S, EBO-R, EBO-CI, MBG). 26 of 266 (9.8%) import quarantine facility staff members were seropositive; 16 of the remaining 284 (5.6%) persons having contact with monkeys (or with monkey tissue or body fluids) outside of import quarantine facilities were seropositive. None of the 42 who tested seropositive reported having any illness believed to be caused by a filovirus.
In immunology, seroconversion is when a specific antibody becomes detectable in the blood, and the corresponding antigen becomes undetectable. During an infection or immunization, antigens enter the blood and the immune system begins to produce antibodies in response. Seroconversion is the point in time when the amount of antibody in the blood exceeds the amount of antigen, and the antibody becomes detectable. Before seroconversion, the antigen is detectable, but the antibody is not.