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Serologic Evidence of Ebolavirus Infection in a Population With No History of Outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Background:Previous studies suggest that cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) may go unreported because they are asymptomatic or unrecognized, but evidence is limited by study designs and sample size. Methods:A large population-based survey was conducted (n = 3415) to assess animal exposures and behaviors associated with Ebolavirus antibody prevalence in rural Kasai Oriental province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Fourteen villages were randomly selected and all healthy individuals ≥1 year of age were eligible. Results:Overall, 11% of subjects tested positive for Zaire Ebolavirus (EBOV) immunoglobulin G antibodies. Odds of seropositivity were higher for study participants older than 15 years of age and for males. Those residing in Kole (closer to the outbreak site) tested positive at a rate 1.6× higher than Lomela, with seropositivity peaking at a site located between Kole and Lomela. Multivariate analyses of behaviors and animal exposures showed that visits to the forest or hunting and exposure to rodents or duikers predicted a higher likelihood of EBOV seropositivity. Conclusions:These results provide serologic evidence of Ebolavirus exposure in a population residing in non-EBOV outbreak locations in the DRC and define statistically significant activities and animal exposures that associate with EBOV seropositivity.

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