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Presence and Persistence of Ebola or Marburg Virus in Patients and Survivors: A Rapid Systematic Review

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Abstract

Background: The 2013-15 Ebola outbreak was unprecedented due to sustainedtransmission within urban environments and thousands of survivors. In 2014 the World Health Organization stated that there was insufficient evidence to give definitive guidance about which body fluids are infectious and when they pose a risk to humans. We report a rapid systematic review of published evidence on the presence of filoviruses in body fluids of infected people and survivors. Methods: Scientific articles were screened for information about filovirus in human body fluids. The aim was to find primary data that suggested high likelihood of actively infectious filovirus in human body fluids (viral RNA). Eligible infections were from Marburg virus (MARV or RAVV) and Zaire, Sudan, Taï Forest and Bundibugyo species of Ebola. [1] Cause of infection had to be laboratory confirmed (in practice either tissue culture or RT-PCR tests), or evidenced by compatible clinical history with subsequent positivity for filovirus antibodies or inflammatory factors. Data were extracted and summarized narratively. Results: 6831 unique articles were found, and after screening, 33 studies were eligible. For most body fluid types there were insufficient patients to draw strong conclusions, and prevalence of positivity was highly variable. Body fluids taken >16 days after onset were usually negative. In the six studies that used both assay methods RT-PCR tests for filovirus RNA gave positive results about 4 times more often than tissue culture. Conclusions: Filovirus was reported in most types of body fluid, but not in every sample from every otherwise confirmed patient. Apart from semen, most non-blood, RT-PCR positive samples are likely to be culture negative and so possibly of low infectious risk. Nevertheless, it is not apparent how relatively infectious many body fluids are during or after illness, even when culture-positive, not least because most test results come from more severe cases. Contact with blood and blood-stained body fluids remains the major risk for disease transmission because of the known high viral loads in blood.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0004475
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 29 Feb 2016
Peer-reviewedYes

Keywords

    Research areas

  • Ebola, Marburg, filovirus, blood, Culture, PCR, systematic review

Bibliographic note

© 2016 Brainard et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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