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Trends Microbiol. 2007 Sep;15(9):408-16. Epub 2007 Aug 15.

The ecology of Ebola virus.

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Special Pathogens Program, National Laboratory for Zoonotic Diseases and Special Pathogens, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada, 1015 Arlington St., Winnipeg, MB R3E 3R2, Canada.


Since Ebola virus was first identified more than 30 years ago, tremendous progress has been made in understanding the molecular biology and pathogenesis of this virus. However, the means by which Ebola virus is maintained and transmitted in nature remains unclear despite dedicated efforts to answer these questions. Recent work has provided new evidence that fruit bats might have a role as a reservoir species, but it is not clear whether other species are also involved or how transmission to humans or apes takes place. Two opposing hypotheses for Ebola emergence have surfaced; one of long-term local persistence in a cryptic and infrequently contacted reservoir, versus another of a more recent introduction of the virus and directional spread through susceptible populations. Nevertheless, with the increasing frequency of human filovirus outbreaks and the tremendous impact of infection on the already threatened great ape populations, there is an urgent need to better understand the ecology of Ebola virus in nature.

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