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Dynamics of antibodies to Ebolaviruses in an Eidolon helvum bat colony in Cameroon

Meta Djomsi D., Mba Djonzo F.A., Ndong Bass I., Champagne M., Lacroix A., Thaurignac G., Esteban A., De Nys H., Bourgarel M., Akoachere J.F., Delaporte E., Ayouba A., Cappelle J., Mpoudi Ngole E., Peeters M.. 2022. Viruses, 14 (3) : 13 p..

DOI: 10.3390/v14030560

The ecology of ebolaviruses is still poorly understood and the role of bats in outbreaks needs to be further clarified. Straw-colored fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) are the most common fruit bats in Africa and antibodies to ebolaviruses have been documented in this species. Between December 2018 and November 2019, samples were collected at approximately monthly intervals in roosting and feeding sites from 820 bats from an Eidolon helvum colony. Dried blood spots (DBS) were tested for antibodies to Zaire, Sudan, and Bundibugyo ebolaviruses. The proportion of samples reactive with GP antigens increased significantly with age from 0¿9/220 (0¿4.1%) in juveniles to 26¿158/225 (11.6¿70.2%) in immature adults and 10¿225/372 (2.7¿60.5%) in adult bats. Antibody responses were lower in lactating females. Viral RNA was not detected in 456 swab samples collected from 152 juvenile and 214 immature adult bats. Overall, our study shows that antibody levels increase in young bats suggesting that seroconversion to Ebola or related viruses occurs in older juvenile and immature adult bats. Multiple year monitoring would be needed to confirm this trend. Knowledge of the periods of the year with the highest risk of Ebolavirus circulation can guide the implementation of strategies to mitigate spill-over events.

Mots-clés : ebolavirus; chiroptera; anticorps; collecte de données; analyse de données; sérologie; immunodiagnostic; relation hôte pathogène; cameroun; eidolon helvum

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