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Microbes Infect. 1999 Dec;1(14):1193-201.

Identification of Ebola virus sequences present as RNA or DNA in organs of terrestrial small mammals of the Central African Republic.

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Laboratoire des arbovirus et virus des fièvres hémorragiques, Institut Pasteur de Bangui Bangui, Central African Republic.


The life cycle of the Ebola (EBO) virus remains enigmatic. We tested for EBO virus in the organs of 242 small mammals captured during ecological studies in the Central African Republic. EBO virus glycoprotein or polymerase gene sequences were detected by reverse transcription PCR in RNA extracts of the organs of seven animals and by PCR in DNA extract of one animal. Neither live virus nor virus antigen was detected in any organ sample. Direct sequencing of amplicons identified the virus as being of the Zaire/Gabon subtype. Virus-like nucleocapsids were observed by electron microscopy in the cytoplasm of the spleen cells of one animal. The animals belonged to two genera of rodents (Muridae; Mus setulosus, Praomys sp1 and P. sp2) and one species of shrew (Soricidae; Sylvisorex ollula). These preliminary results provide evidence that common terrestrial small mammals living in peripheral forest areas have been in contact with the EBO virus and demonstrate the persistence of EBO virus RNA and DNA in the organs of the animals. Our findings should lead to better targeting of research into the life cycle of the EBO virus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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