Predicting and preventing further outbreaks of Ebola

Reassessing risk of Ebola through new confirmed cases of human disease combined with virus findings in animals.

Data resources used via GBIF : 2,254 species occurrences
Straw-coloured fruit bat (Eidolon helvum)

Straw-coloured fruit bat (Eidolon helvum) by amasabaaluizah via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

As the West African outbreak of Ebola is contained, focus shifts from control to prediction and prevention of the disease that caused more than 11,000 deaths. In their 2014 paper, Pigott and colleagues modelled the zoonotic niche of the virus through occurrences of three bat reservoir species. In this paper, the same team of researchers provide an update following an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and, through literature scrutiny and use of improved immunological tests, add new confirmed virus findings to the previously published database. They find evidence of Ebola virus in three animal species: Peter’s mouse (Mus setulosus), greater forest shrew (Sylvisorex ollula) and straw-coloured fruit bat (Eidolon helvum). By updating their model based on GBIF-mediated occurrences, they reassess the environmental suitability for the virus, increase the number of at-risk countries to 23, and highlight Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea as being even more suitable then previously calculated.

Pigott DM, Millear AI, Earl L, Morozoff C, Han BA, Shearer FM, Weiss DJ, Brady OJ, Kraemer MU, Moyes CL, Bhatt S, Gething PW, Golding N and Hay SI (2016) Updates to the zoonotic niche map of Ebola virus disease in Africa. eLife. eLife Sciences Organisation, Ltd. 5. Available at doi:10.7554/eLife.16412.