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Suspected Exposure to Filoviruses Among People Contacting Wildlife in Southwestern Uganda.



Human and filovirus host interactions remain poorly understood in areas where Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks are likely to occur. In the Bwindi region of Uganda, a hot spot of mammalian biodiversity in Africa, human livelihoods are intimately connected with wildlife, creating potential for exposure to filoviruses.


We tested samples from 331 febrile patients presenting to healthcare facilities near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda, by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis and Western blot, using recombinant glycoprotein antigens for Ebola virus (EBOV), Sudan virus (SUDV), Bundibugyo virus (BDBV), and Marburg virus. Behavioral data on contact with wildlife were collected to examine risk factors for filovirus seropositivity.


All patients were negative for active filovirus infection, by PCR analysis. However, patients were seroreactive to SUDV (4.7%), EBOV (5.3%), and BDBV (8.9%), indicating previous exposure. Touching duikers was the most significant risk factor associated with EBOV seropositivity, while hunting primates and touching and/or eating cane rats were significant risk factors for SUDV seropositivity.


People in southwestern Uganda have suspected previous exposure to filoviruses, particularly those with a history of wildlife contact. Circulation of filoviruses in wild animals and subsequent spillover into humans could be more common than previously reported.

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