Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Rothenberg

Second Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Trower

Abstract

The Ebola viruses cause sporadic outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) where origins have been traced to the continent of Africa and the Philippines. Since the initial discovery of Zaire and Sudan ebolavirus in 1976, the Ebola viruses have been responsible for severe hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in Africa with case fatality rates between 40-90%. The natural reservoir(s) of the Ebola viruses is currently unknown, but there is mounting evidence that fruit bats may play a key role. The goal of the current study is to screen a large variety of bat species from Africa and Asia where Ebola is known to be endemic for the presence of IgG specific antibody to Ebola virus in order to see which bat species may show evidence of past Ebola virus infection. Ebola virus would not be expected to cause lethal disease in its natural reservoir; therefore the presence of IgG antibody would be present. Identifying the species of bats that have been infected will allow researchers to hopefully isolate Ebola virus from bats adding to the evidence that bats are a reservoir species. The knowledge gained may also provide clues to new species of bats yet to be identified as possible natural reservoir(s) as well as expand the known geographical range of known Ebola virus outbreaks. Knowing which species of bats as well as their geographic range may help prevent future Ebola outbreaks by minimizing human-reservoir contact.

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