U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Published in Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 82(4), 2010, pp. 746–754.


Human monkeypox has never been reported in Ghana, but rodents captured in forested areas of southern Ghana were the source of the monkeypox virus introduced into the United States in 2003. Subsequent to the outbreak in the United States, 204 animals were collected from two commercial trapping sites in Ghana. Animal tissues were examined for the presence of orthopoxvirus (OPXV) DNA using a real-time polymerase chain reaction, and sera were assayed for antibodies against OPXV. Animals from five genera (Cricetomys , Graphiurus , Funiscirus, and Heliosciurus ) had antibodies against OPXV, and three genera (Cricetomys , Graphiurus , and Xerus) had evidence of OPXV DNA in tissues. Additionally, 172 persons living near the trapping sites were interviewed regarding risk factors for OPXV exposure, and their sera were analyzed. Fifty-three percent had IgG against OPXV; none had IgM. Our findings suggest that several species of forest-dwelling rodents from Ghana are susceptible to naturally occurring OPXV infection, and that persons living near forests may have low-level or indirect exposure to OPXV-infected animals, possibly resulting in sub-clinical infections.