Ebola Virus Makona Shows Reduced Lethality in an Immune-deficient Mouse Model

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Ebola virus Makona (EBOV-Makona; from the 2013–2016 West Africa outbreak) shows decreased virulence in an immune-deficient mouse model, compared with a strain from 1976. Unlike other filoviruses tested, EBOV-Makona may be slightly more virulent by the aerosol route than by the injected route, as 2 mice died following aerosol exposure, compared with no mortality among mice that received intraperitoneal injection of equivalent or higher doses. Although most mice did not succumb to infection, the detection of an immunoglobulin G antibody response along with observed clinical signs suggest that the mice were infected but able to clear the infection and recover. We hypothesize that this may be due to the growth rates and kinetics of the virus, which appear slower than that for other filoviruses and consequently give more time for an immune response that results in clearance of the virus. In this instance, the immune-deficient mouse model is unlikely to be appropriate for testing medical countermeasures against this EBOV-Makona stock but may provide insight into pathogenesis and the immune response to virus.

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