Research ArticleEPIDEMIOLOGY

Reduced evolutionary rate in reemerged Ebola virus transmission chains

Science Advances  29 Apr 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 4, e1600378
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600378

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Abstract

On 29 June 2015, Liberia’s respite from Ebola virus disease (EVD) was interrupted for the second time by a renewed outbreak (“flare-up”) of seven confirmed cases. We demonstrate that, similar to the March 2015 flare-up associated with sexual transmission, this new flare-up was a reemergence of a Liberian transmission chain originating from a persistently infected source rather than a reintroduction from a reservoir or a neighboring country with active transmission. Although distinct, Ebola virus (EBOV) genomes from both flare-ups exhibit significantly low genetic divergence, indicating a reduced rate of EBOV evolution during persistent infection. Using this rate of change as a signature, we identified two additional EVD clusters that possibly arose from persistently infected sources. These findings highlight the risk of EVD flare-ups even after an outbreak is declared over.

Keywords
  • Ebola virus
  • reemerged
  • transmission chain
  • reduced evolutionary rate
  • Liberia
  • Ebola virus disease
  • Western Africa
  • flare-up
  • persistent infection

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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