Ebola virus disease (EVD) also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe contagious disease affecting humans, non-human primates and some domestic species (e.g. pigs). While fruit bats are considered as a natural reservoir, the involvement of other species in the EBOV transmission cycle is unclear, especially for domesticated animals. However Dogs and pigs are so far the only domestic animals identified as species that can be infected with EBOV. In 2009 Reston-EBOV was the first EBOV reported to infect swine with indicated transmission to humans; and a survey in Gabon found over 30% sero prevalence for EBOV in dogs during the Ebola outbreak in 2001-2002. While infections in dogs appear to be asymptomatic, pigs experimentally infected with EBOV can develop clinical disease, depending on the virus species and possibly the age of the infected animals. In the experimental settings, pigs can transmit Zaire-Ebola virus to native pigs and macaques monkeys; however, their role during Ebola outbreaks in Africa needs to be clarified. In Africa, fruit bats are considered natural hosts and reservoirs of the Ebola virus although Ebola outbreaks have been observed in chimpanzees, gorillas, macaque monkeys and in some pigs in the Philippines and China. These latter animals, like human beings, have been considered as “accidental hosts” and not reservoirs of the Ebola virus. A fact sheet recently released by the World Health Organization (WHO) has proved helpful in this regard, revealing that the Ebola virus is transmitted to people from animals and subsequently spreads through the human population through person to person contacts. The risk of infection among humans from animals may be reduced by avoiding contact with fruit bats or monkeys etc. avoiding consumption of their raw meat and ensuring that all animal products are thoroughly cooked before consumption. Animal handlers are advised to wear gloves and other protective clothing. Significant issues about disease development remain to be resolved for EBOV. Evaluation of current human vaccine candidates or development of veterinary vaccines de novo for EBOV might need to be considered, especially if pigs or dogs are implicated in the transmission of an African species of EBOV to humans.
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