Section: Infections
Topic: Population biology, Applied mathematics, Health sciences

A Bayesian analysis of birth pulse effects on the probability of detecting Ebola virus in fruit bats

10.24072/pcjournal.380 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article no. e39.

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Since 1976 various species of Ebolavirus have caused a series of zoonotic outbreaks and public health crises in Africa. Bats have long been hypothesised to function as important hosts for ebolavirus maintenance, however the transmission ecology for these viruses remains poorly understood. Several studies have demonstrated rapid seroconversion for ebolavirus antibodies in young bats, yet paradoxically few PCR studies have confirmed the identity of the circulating viral species causing these seroconversions. The current study presents an age-structured epidemiological model that characterises the effects of seasonal birth pulses on ebolavirus transmission within a colony of African straw-coloured fruit bats (Eidolon helvum). Bayesian calibration is performed using previously published serological data collected from Cameroon, and age-structure data from Ghana. The model predicts that annual birth pulses most likely give rise to annual outbreaks, although more complex dynamic patterns – including skip years, multi-annual cycles and chaos – may be possible. Weeks 30 to 31 of each year were estimated to be the most likely period for isolating the circulating virus in Cameroon. The probability that a previous PCR campaign failed to detect Ebola virus, assuming that it was circulating, was estimated to be one in two thousand. This raises questions such as (1) what can we actually learn from ebolavirus serology tests performed without positive controls? (2) are current PCR tests sufficiently sensitive? (3) are swab samples really appropriate for ebolavirus detection? The current results provide important insights for the design of future field studies aiming to detect Ebola viruses from sylvatic hosts, and can contribute to risk assessments concerning the timing of zoonotic outbreaks.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.380
Type: Research article
Keywords: age-structured model, Bayesian, bifurcation, birth pulse, chaos, dynamics, Ebola, epidemiology, fruit bat, maternal immunity, seasonality, skip year, recurrence plot, Eidolon helvum, bats; zoonoses
Pleydell, David R.J. 1, 2, 3; Ndong Bass, Innocent 4; Mba Djondzo, Flaubert Auguste 4; Meta Djomsi, Dowbiss 4; Kouanfack, Charles 4; Peeters, Martine 5; Cappelle, Julien 2, 3

1 INRAE, UMR ASTRE, F-34398 Montpellier, France
2 CIRAD, UMR ASTRE, F-34398 Montpellier, France
3 ASTRE, CIRAD, INRAE, Univ Montpellier, Montpellier, France
4 Laboratoire de Virologie-Cremer, Institut de Recherches Médicales et d’Études des Plantes Médicinales (IMPM), Yaoundé P.O. Box 13033, Cameroon
5 TransVIHMI, University of Montpellier (UM), French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), Montpellier, France
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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     title = {A {Bayesian} analysis of birth pulse effects on the probability of detecting {Ebola} virus in fruit bats},
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Pleydell, David R.J.; Ndong Bass, Innocent; Mba Djondzo, Flaubert Auguste; Meta Djomsi, Dowbiss; Kouanfack, Charles; Peeters, Martine; Cappelle, Julien. A Bayesian analysis of birth pulse effects on the probability of detecting Ebola virus in fruit bats. Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article  no. e39. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.380.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.infections.100195

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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