Ebola virus transmission in guinea pigs

Gary Wong, Xiangguo Qiu, Jason S. Richardson, Todd Cutts, Brad Collignon, Jason Gren, Jenna Aviles, Carissa Embury-Hyatt, Gary P. Kobinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Ebola virus (EBOV) transmission is currently poorly characterized and is thought to occur primarily by direct contact with infectious material; however transmission from swine to nonhuman primates via the respiratory tract has been documented. To establish an EBOV transmission model for performing studies with statistical significance, groups of six guinea pigs (gps) were challenged intranasally (i.n.) or intraperitoneally (i.p.) with 10,000 times the 50% lethal dose (LD50) of gp-adapted EBOV, and naive gps were then introduced as cage mates for contact exposure at 1 day postinfection (p.i.). The animals were monitored for survival and clinical signs of disease and quantitated for virus shedding postexposure. Changes in the duration of contact of naive gps with infected animals were evaluated for their impact on transmission efficiency. Transmission was more efficient from i.n.- than from i.p.-challenged gps, with 17% versus 83% of naive gps surviving exposure, respectively. Virus shedding was detected beginning at 3 days p.i. from both i.n.- and i.p.-challenged animals. Contact duration positively correlated with transmission efficiency, and the abrogation of direct contact between infected and naive animals through the erection of a steel mesh was effective at stopping virus spread, provided that infectious animal bedding was absent from the cages. Histopathological and immunohistochemical findings show that i.n.-infected gps display enhanced lung pathology and EBOV antigen in the trachea, which supports increased virus transmission from these animals. The results suggest that i.n.-challenged gps are more infectious to naive animals than their systemically infected counterparts and that transmission occurs through direct contact with infectious materials, including those transported through air movement over short distances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1314-1323
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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