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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2019 Oct 31;13(10):e0007733. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0007733. eCollection 2019 Oct.

Filovirus-reactive antibodies in humans and bats in Northeast India imply zoonotic spillover.

Author information

National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore, India.
Sastra University, School of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India.
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.
Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School, Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases, Singapore.
National University of Singapore, Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering, Singapore.
Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India.
Wuhan Institute of Virology, Department of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Wuhan, China.


Bats are reservoirs for several zoonotic pathogens, including filoviruses. Recent work highlights the diversity of bat borne filoviruses in Asia. High risk activities at the bat-human interface pose the threat of zoonotic virus transmission. We present evidence for prior exposure of bat harvesters and two resident fruit bat species to filovirus surface glycoproteins by screening sera in a multiplexed serological assay. Antibodies reactive to two antigenically distinct filoviruses were detected in human sera and to three individual filoviruses in bats in remote Northeast India. Sera obtained from Eonycteris spelaea bats showed similar patterns of cross-reactivity as human samples, suggesting them as the species responsible for the spillover. In contrast, sera from Rousettus leschenaultii bats reacted to two different virus glycoproteins. Our results indicate circulation of several filoviruses in bats and the possibility for filovirus transmission from bats to humans.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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