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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2021

Authors: Figueroa, DM; Kuisma, E; Matson, MJ; Ondzie, AU; Bushmaker, T; Seifert, SN; Ntoumi, F; Escudero-Pérez, B; Muñoz-Fontela, C; Walzer, C; Olson, SH; Goma-Nkoua, C; Mombouli, JV; Fischer, RJ; Munster, VJ

Title: Development and validation of portable, field-deployable Ebola virus point-of-encounter diagnostic assay for wildlife surveillance.

Source: One Health Outlook. 2021; 3(1):9

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Walzer Christian

Vetmed Research Units
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, Conservation Medicine

Early detection of Ebola virus spillover into wildlife is crucial for rapid response. We developed and validated a portable, cold-chain independent Ebola virus RT-qPCR assay.The field syringe-based RNA extraction method was compared with a conventional laboratory-based spin-column RNA extraction method. Next, the qPCR efficiency and limit of detection of the assay was compared to standard laboratory-based reagents and equipment. The specificity of the assay was confirmed by testing against multiple Zaire Ebolavirus (EBOV) variants and other ebolavirus species. Lastly, swabs from an EBOV-infected non-human primate carcass, stored at environmental conditions mimicking central and west Africa, were analyzed to mimic in field conditions.The syringe-based RNA extraction method performed comparably to a standard laboratory spin-column-based method. The developed assay was comparable in sensitivity and specificity to standard laboratory-based diagnostic assays. The assay specifically detected EBOV and not any of the other tested ebolavirus species, including Reston ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, and Tai Forrest ebolavirus. Notably, the assays limit of detection for EBOV isolates were all below 4 genome copies/μL. The assay was able to detect EBOV in oral, nasal, thoracic cavity, and conjunctiva swabs obtained from an infected non-human primate.We developed a field-based Ebolavirus assay which is comparable in sensitivity and specificity to laboratory-based assays. Currently, the assay is being incorporated into wildlife carcass surveillance in the Republic of the Congo and is being adapted for other infectious disease agents.

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