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Ferrets Infected with Bundibugyo Virus or Ebola Virus Recapitulate Important Aspects of Human Filovirus Disease



Ferrets Infected with Bundibugyo Virus or Ebola Virus Recapitulate Important Aspects of Human Filovirus Disease



Journal of Virology 90(20): 9209-9223



Bundibugyo virus (BDBV) is the etiological agent of a severe hemorrhagic fever in humans with a case-fatality rate ranging from 25 to 36%. Despite having been known to the scientific and medical communities for almost 1 decade, there is a dearth of studies on this pathogen due to the lack of a small animal model. Domestic ferrets are commonly used to study other RNA viruses, including members of the order Mononegavirales To investigate whether ferrets were susceptible to filovirus infections, ferrets were challenged with a clinical isolate of BDBV. Animals became viremic within 4 days and succumbed to infection between 8 and 9 days, and a petechial rash was observed with moribund ferrets. Furthermore, several hallmarks of human filoviral disease were recapitulated in the ferret model, including substantial decreases in lymphocyte and platelet counts and dysregulation of key biochemical markers related to hepatic/renal function, as well as coagulation abnormalities. Virological, histopathological, and immunohistochemical analyses confirmed uncontrolled BDBV replication in the major organs. Ferrets were also infected with Ebola virus (EBOV) to confirm their susceptibility to another filovirus species and to potentially establish a virus transmission model. Similar to what was seen with BDBV, important hallmarks of human filoviral disease were observed in EBOV-infected ferrets. This study demonstrates the potential of this small animal model for studying BDBV and EBOV using wild-type isolates and will accelerate efforts to understand filovirus pathogenesis and transmission as well as the development of specific vaccines and antivirals.Label="IMPORTANCE">The 2013-2016 outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa has highlighted the threat posed by filoviruses to global public health. Bundibugyo virus (BDBV) is a member of the genus Ebolavirus and has caused outbreaks in the past but is relatively understudied, likely due to the lack of a suitable small animal model. Such a model for BDBV is crucial to evaluating vaccines and therapies and potentially understanding transmission. To address this, we demonstrated that ferrets are susceptible models to BDBV infection as well as to Ebola virus infection and that no virus adaptation is required. Moreover, these animals develop a disease that is similar to that seen in humans and nonhuman primates. We believe that this will improve the ability to study BDBV and provide a platform to test vaccines and therapeutics.

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Accession: 057873179

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27489269

DOI: 10.1128/JVI.01033-16



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