Spillover or endemic? Reconsidering the origins of Ebola virus disease outbreaks by revisiting local accounts in light of new evidence from Guinea

That the 2021 outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Guinea originated in viral resurgence from a survivor infected 5–7 years ago requires local and scientific accounts of past outbreaks to be revisited. Many past EVD epidemics hitherto considered as independent zoonotic spillovers may have originated from similar flare-ups even after decades, prompting reconsideration of EVD more as an endemic disease over long timescales and wide areas than as a series of discrete epidemics, and accounting for increasing outbreak frequency. Key assumptions in analysis of phylogenetics and of the ecology and drivers of Ebola virus (EBOV) spillover from wildlife hosts such as bats need to be reassessed. More collaborative, respectful approaches with local communities are needed to understand the origins of outbreaks, to address them and to support rather than stigmatise sufferers and survivors.

Year of publication: 2021

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Content type:  Tool
Areas of work: Monitoring and evaluation, Social science
Region: Global

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