Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases 1999;179 (Suppl 1 ):S155-63


A 3-month ecologic investigation was done to identify the reservoir of Ebola virus following the 1995 outbreak in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Efforts focused on the fields where the putative primary case had worked but included other habitats near Kikwit. Samples were collected from 3066 vertebrates and tested for the presence of antibodies to Ebola (subtype Zaire) virus: All tests were negative, and attempts to isolate Ebola virus were unsuccessful. The investigation was hampered by a lack of information beyond the daily activities of the primary case, a lack of information on Ebola virus ecology, which precluded the detailed study of select groups of animals, and sample-size limitations for rare species. The epidemiology of Ebola hemorrhagic fever suggests that humans have only intermittent contact with the virus, which complicates selection of target species. Further study of the epidemiology of human outbreaks to further define the environmental contact of primary cases would be of great value.