Serological Evidence for the Circulation of Ebolaviruses in Pigs From Sierra Leone

Many human ebolavirus outbreaks have been linked to contact with wildlife including nonhuman primates and bats, which are assumed to serve as host species. However, it is largely unknown to what extent other animal species, particularly livestock, are involved in the transmission cycle or act as additional hosts for filoviruses. Pigs were identified as a susceptible host for Reston virus with subsequent transmission to humans reported in the Philippines. To date, there is no evidence of natural Ebola virus (EBOV) infection in pigs, although pigs were shown to be susceptible to EBOV infection under experimental settings. To investigate the potential role of pigs in the ecology of EBOV, we analyzed 400 porcine serum samples from Sierra Leone for the presence of ebolavirus- specific antibodies. Three samples reacted with ebolavirus nucleoproteins but had no neutralizing antibodies. Our results (1) suggest the circulation of ebolaviruses in swine in Sierra Leone that are antigenically related but not identical to EBOV and (2) could represent undiscovered ebolaviruses with unknown pathogenic and/or zoonotic potential.


Kerstin Fischer,1 Juliet Jabaty,4 Roland Suluku,5 Thomas Strecker,6 Allison Groseth2, Sarah K. Fehling,6 Anne Balkema-Buschmann,1 Bashiru Koroma,5Kristina M. Schmidt,1 Christine Atherstone,7,8 Hana M. Weingartl,9 Thomas C. Mettenleiter,3 Martin H. Groschup,1 Thomas Hoenen,3 and Sandra Diederich1


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