Filovirus contamination of cell cultures.

C. J. Peters, P. B. Jahrling, T. G. Ksiazek, E. D. Johnson, H. W. Lupton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The filoviruses Marburg and Ebola comprise a newly recognized family of viruses. The first filovirus to be isolated was Marburg virus in 1967. This virus was imported in shipments of African green monkeys from Uganda and infected several cell-culture technicians, with serious illness resulting. The rarity of Marburg and Ebola virus transmission, decreasing use of imported African monkeys, and quarantine efforts have presumably been responsible for the lack of additional episodes until 1989, when a new filovirus related to Ebola was isolated from quarantined monkeys in Reston, Virginia. This virus was imported on multiple occasions from a Philippine supplier of cynomolgus macaques as a consequence of an epidemic of acute infections in the foreign holding facility. While quarantine procedures prevented the use of any of these animals in research and the three human infections that occurred were asymptomatic, this episode emphasizes that these little understood viruses have considerable potential for mischief. The finding of antibodies reacting with Ebola viruses in many biomedically important Old World primates, including colonized monkeys in the U.S., emphasizes the need for more research to understand the specificity of the antibodies, spectrum of filovirus strains in nature, potential hosts, and true distribution of the family. The filoviruses grow well in primary and established cell strains and cell lines, and cytopathogenic effects may be absent or require several days to be manifest, leading to the possibility of occult contamination. The known viruses are readily detected by polyclonal and monoclonal antibody staining of cells and by electron microscopy; nucleic acid probes exist to develop more sensitive techniques if warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopments in biological standardization
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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