Evidence for minimally symptomatic Ebola virus (EBOV) infection is limited. During the 2013-16 outbreak in West Africa, it was not considered epidemiologically relevant to published models or projections of intervention effects. In order to improve our understanding of the transmission dynamics of EBOV in humans, we investigated the occurrence of minimally symptomatic EBOV infection in quarantined contacts of reported Ebola virus disease cases in a recognized 'hotspot.'We conducted a cross-sectional serosurvey in Sukudu, Kono District, Sierra Leone, from October 2015 to January 2016. A blood sample was collected from 187 study participants, 132 negative controls (individuals with a low likelihood of previous exposure to Ebola virus), and 30 positive controls (Ebola virus disease survivors). IgG responses to Ebola glycoprotein and nucleoprotein were measured using Alpha Diagnostic International ELISA kits with plasma diluted at 1:200. Optical density was read at 450 nm (subtracting OD at 630nm to normalize well background) on a ChroMate 4300 microplate reader. A cutoff of 4.7 U/mL for the anti-GP ELISA yielded 96.7% sensitivity and 97.7% specificity in distinguishing positive and negative controls. We identified 14 seropositive individuals not known to have had Ebola virus disease. Two of the 14 seropositive individuals reported only fever during quarantine while the remaining 12 denied any signs or symptoms during quarantine.By using ELISA to measure Zaire Ebola virus antibody concentrations, we identified a significant number of individuals with previously undetected EBOV infection in a 'hotspot' village in Sierra Leone, approximately one year after the village outbreak. The findings provide further evidence that Ebola, like many other viral infections, presents with a spectrum of clinical manifestations, including minimally symptomatic infection. These data also suggest that a significant portion of Ebola transmission events may have gone undetected during the outbreak. Further studies are needed to understand the potential risk of transmission and clinical sequelae in individuals with previously undetected EBOV infection.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005087
View details for Web of Science ID 000392154400022
View details for PubMedID 27846221