1. Epidemiology and Global Health
  2. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
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Mapping the zoonotic niche of Ebola virus disease in Africa

  1. David M Pigott
  2. Nick Golding
  3. Adrian Mylne
  4. Zhi Huang
  5. Andrew J Henry
  6. Daniel J Weiss
  7. Oliver J Brady
  8. Moritz U G Kraemer
  9. David L Smith
  10. Catherine L Moyes
  11. Samir Bhatt
  12. Peter W Gething
  13. Peter W Horby
  14. Isaac I Bogoch
  15. John S Brownstein
  16. Sumiko R Mekaru
  17. Andrew J Tatem
  18. Kamran Khan
  19. Simon I Hay Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  2. University of Toronto, Canada
  3. Harvard Medical School, United States
  4. Boston Children's Hospital, United States
  5. University of Southampton, United Kingdom
Research Article
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Cite as: eLife 2014;3:e04395 doi: 10.7554/eLife.04395

Abstract

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a complex zoonosis that is highly virulent in humans. The largest recorded outbreak of EVD is ongoing in West Africa, outside of its previously reported and predicted niche. We assembled location data on all recorded zoonotic transmission to humans and Ebola virus infection in bats and primates (1976-2014). Using species distribution models, these occurrence data were paired with environmental covariates to predict a zoonotic transmission niche covering 22 countries across Central and West Africa. Vegetation, elevation, temperature, evapotranspiration, and suspected reservoir bat distributions define this relationship. At-risk areas are inhabited by 22 million people; however, the rarity of human outbreaks emphasises the very low probability of transmission to humans. Increasing population sizes and international connectivity by air since the first detection of EVD in 1976 suggest that the dynamics of human-to-human secondary transmission in contemporary outbreaks will be very different to those of the past.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. David M Pigott

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  2. Nick Golding

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  3. Adrian Mylne

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  4. Zhi Huang

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  5. Andrew J Henry

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  6. Daniel J Weiss

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  7. Oliver J Brady

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  8. Moritz U G Kraemer

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  9. David L Smith

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  10. Catherine L Moyes

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  11. Samir Bhatt

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  12. Peter W Gething

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  13. Peter W Horby

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  14. Isaac I Bogoch

    University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  15. John S Brownstein

    Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  16. Sumiko R Mekaru

    Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  17. Andrew J Tatem

    University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  18. Kamran Khan

    University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  19. Simon I Hay

    University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    simon.hay@zoo.ox.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    Simon I Hay, Reviewing editor, eLife.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Prabhat Jha, Reviewing Editor, University of Toronto, Canada

Publication history

  1. Received: August 18, 2014
  2. Accepted: August 31, 2014
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: September 8, 2014 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: September 19, 2014 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2014, Pigott et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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