Nomenclature-and Database-Compatible Names for the Two Ebola Virus Variants that Emerged in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2014

Abstract: In 2014, Ebola virus (EBOV) was identified as the etiological agent of a large and still expanding outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa and a much more confined EVD outbreak in Middle Africa. Epidemiological and evolutionary analyses confirmed that all cases of both outbreaks are connected to a single introduction each of EBOV into human populations and that both outbreaks are not directly connected. Coding-complete genomic sequence analyses of isolates revealed that the two outbreaks were caused by two novel EBOV variants, and initial clinical observations suggest that neither of them should be considered strains. Here we present consensus decisions on naming for both variants (West Africa: “Makona”, Middle Africa: “Lomela”) and provide database-compatible full, shortened, and abbreviated names that are in line with recently established filovirus sub-species nomenclatures. ### Photo credit: NIAID via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

Long-term Persistence of Chikungunya Virus Neutralizing Antibodies in Human Populations of North Eastern Thailand

Background: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) outbreak recurrences in Thailand are unpredictable and separated by unexplained and often long silent epidemiological periods that can last for several years. These silent periods could be explained in part by the fact that infection with one CHIKV strain confers lasting natural immunity, even against other CHIKV strains. In this study we evaluated the persistence of CHIKV-specific neutralizing antibodies in the population of Chumpae District, Khon Kaen Province, nineteen years after a CHIKV outbreak occurred in the same area in 1991. ### Photo credit: AJC1 via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

Evidence for Henipavirus Spillover Into Human Populations in Africa

Zoonotic transmission of lethal henipaviruses (HNVs) from their natural fruit bat reservoirs to humans has only been reported in Australia and South/Southeast Asia. However, a recent study discovered numerous HNV clades in African bat samples. To determine the potential for HNV spillover events among humans in Africa, here we examine well-curated sets of bat (Eidolon helvum, n=44) and human (n=497) serum samples from Cameroon for Nipah virus (NiV) cross-neutralizing antibodies (NiV-X-Nabs). Using a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-based pseudoparticle seroneutralization assay, we detect NiV-X-Nabs in 48% and 3–4% of the bat and human samples, respectively. Seropositive human samples are found almost exclusively in individuals who reported butchering bats for bushmeat. Seropositive human sera also neutralize Hendra virus and Gh-M74a (an African HNV) pseudoparticles, as well as live NiV. Butchering bat meat and living in areas undergoing deforestation are the most significant risk factors associated with seropositivity. Evidence for HNV spillover events warrants increased surveillance efforts. ### Photo credit: MTSOfan via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Bat Distribution Size or Shape as Determinant of Viral Richness in African Bats

Abstract The rising incidence of emerging infectious diseases (EID) is mostly linked to biodiversity loss, changes in habitat use and increasing habitat fragmentation. Bats are linked to a growing number of EID but few studies have explored the factors of viral richness in bats. These may have implications for role of bats as potential reservoirs. We investigated the determinants of viral richness in 15 species of African bats (8 Pteropodidae and 7 microchiroptera) in Central and West Africa for which we provide new information on virus infection and bat phylogeny. We performed the first comparative analysis testing the correlation of the fragmented geographical distribution (defined as the perimeter to area ratio) with viral richness in bats. Because of their potential effect, sampling effort, host body weight, ecological and behavioural traits such as roosting behaviour, migration and geographical range, were included into the analysis as variables. The results showed that the geographical distribution size, shape and host body weight have significant effects on viral richness in bats. Viral richness was higher in large-bodied bats which had larger and more fragmented distribution areas. Accumulation of viruses may be related to the historical expansion and contraction of bat species distribution range, with potentially strong effects of distribution edges on virus transmission. Two potential explanations may explain these results. A positive distribution edge effect on the abundance or distribution of some bat species could have facilitated host switches. Alternatively, parasitism could play a direct role in shaping the distribution range of hosts through host local extinction by virulent parasites. This study highlights the importance of considering the fragmentation of bat species geographical distribution in order to understand their role in the circulation of viruses in Africa.