Ecological Contexts of Index Cases and Spillover Events of Different Ebolaviruses.

PLoS pathogens

PubMedID: 27494600

Judson SD, Fischer R, Judson A, Munster VJ. Ecological Contexts of Index Cases and Spillover Events of Different Ebolaviruses. PLoS Pathog. 2016;12(8):e1005780.
Ebola virus disease afflicts both human and animal populations and is caused by four ebolaviruses. These different ebolaviruses may have distinct reservoir hosts and ecological contexts that determine how, where, and when different ebolavirus spillover events occur. Understanding these virus-specific relationships is important for preventing transmission of ebolaviruses from wildlife to humans. We examine the ecological contexts surrounding 34 human index case infections of ebolaviruses from 1976-2014. Determining possible sources of spillover from wildlife, characterizing the environment of each event, and creating ecological niche models to estimate habitats suitable for spillover, we find that index case infections of two ebolaviruses, Ebola virus and Sudan virus, have occurred under different ecological contexts. The index cases of Ebola virus infection are more associated with tropical evergreen broadleaf forests and consuming bushmeat than the cases of Sudan virus. Given these differences, we emphasize caution when generalizing across different ebolaviruses and that location and virus-specific ecological knowledge will be essential to unravelling how human and animal behavior lead to the emergence of Ebola virus disease.