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Ebola in Insects

Baker, Robert RBaker at atcc.org
Mon Feb 2 04:44:26 EST 2004


While Ebola has been able to be experimentally inoculated into some species,
this does not necessarily mean that these species are the reservoir for the
virus.  The truth is that we still don't know what the reservoir species is
for Ebola.  But your question, which is can Ebola be spread by insects, is a
good one.  The short answer is: we don't think so.

Viruses that spread by mosquitoes or other insects show a certain pattern of
spread: people catch the disease with no direct contact with other infected
people.  This has not been the case with Ebola.  The only people to catch
Ebola have been in contact with other infected people, with the exception of
the index case, of course.  As I said, we don't know where the index case
catches it, but if it were from a mosquito, we would expect more than one
case appearing in close proximity simultaneously, and we don't see that.

Second, researchers have caught a lot of mosquitoes and other insects in
Africa and looked for the virus in them.  No trace of the virus has been

These two arguments do not absolutely rule out an insect vector for Ebola,
but they tend to make scientists think that there is some other form of
transfer - probably body fluid contact with an infected animal.

I hope that helps.  Feel free to contact me if you have any further


P.s. Just so you know who I am, I have worked with live Ebola, both in
culture and in animals in BSL-4 labs for more than 5 years, as well as other
BSL-3 and BSL-4 viruses.

Robert O. Baker, PhD
Collection Scientist

--- Original Message ---

Sir or Ma'am; 
I am currently writing a research paper on the Ebola Virus. I was wondering 
if it is possible for the Ebola virus to be spread by insects? In a study I 
read in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, in the study they 
concluded that fruit bates carry the virus and it does not seem to harm 
them. This led me to wonder if insects could also. The study was entitled 
Experiments inoculation of plants and animals with Ebola virus, volume 2. 
So is it possible for insects to carry the Ebola virus, and if so would 
mosquitoes and ticks be able to spread the virus to humans? 
Thank you for your time 
Meghan Rogers 
Cap Scholar, UIS 


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