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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Mosquito and Fly Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #330508

Research Project: Biting Arthropod Surveillance and Control

Location: Mosquito and Fly Research

Title: Low potential for mechanical transmission of Ebola virus via house flies (Musca domestica)

item Haddow, Andrew - Department Of Defense
item Nasar, Farooq - Department Of Defense
item Schellhase, Christopher - Department Of Defense
item Moon, Roger - University Of Minnesota
item Padilla, Susana - Department Of Defense
item Zeng, Xiankun - Department Of Defense
item Wollen-roberts, Suzanne - Department Of Defense
item Shamblin, Joshua - Department Of Defense
item Grimes, Elizabeth - Department Of Defense
item Zelko, Justine - Department Of Defense
item Linthicum, Kenneth - Ken
item Bavari, Sina - Department Of Defense
item Pitt, Louise - Department Of Defense
item Trefry, John - Department Of Defense

Submitted to: Emerging Infectious Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2017
Publication Date: 5/3/2017
Citation: Haddow, A.D., Nasar, F., Schellhase, C.W., Moon, R.D., Padilla, S.L., Zeng, X., Wollen-Roberts, S.E., Shamblin, J.D., Grimes, E.C., Zelko, J.M., Linthicum, K., Bavari, S., Pitt, L.M., Trefry, J.C. 2017. Low potential for mechanical transmission of Ebola virus via house flies (Musca domestica). Emerging Infectious Diseases. doi:10.1186/s13071-017-2149-x.

Interpretive Summary: The primary mechanism of Ebola virus transmission is through human contact with infectious bodily fluids originating from infected patients or cadavers. The unusually high number of Ebola virus cases that occurred in West Africa during an outbreak that started in March 2014 raised questions about whether flies could play a role in virus transmission. Filth flies are known to mechanically transmit several viral and bacterial pathogens. These flies are also closely associated with unsanitary conditions and are known to feed on blood and mucosal secretions. We attempted mechanical transmission of Ebola virus by exposing house flies to a mixture of Ebola virus and blood and then allowing the flies to contact the face of cynomolgus monkeys to model human exposure. There was no evidence of infection in the animals.

Technical Abstract: Ebola virus emerged in West Africa in March 2014 and has caused more than 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths. The unusually high number of cases raised the question as to whether muscid flies could mechanically transmit the virus. Mechanical transmission of Ebola virus was attempted using house flies to deliver a virus/blood mixture to the face of macaques to model human exposure. There was no evidence of viral replication or systemic infection.