Isolation of genetically diverse Marburg viruses from Egyptian fruit bats

Jonathan S. Towner, Brian R. Amman, Tara K. Sealy, Serena A. Reeder Carroll, James A. Comer, Alan Kemp, Robert Swanepoel, Christopher D. Paddock, Stephen Balinandi, Marina L. Khristova, Pierre B.H. Formenty, Cesar G. Albarino, David M. Miller, Zachary D. Reed, John T. Kayiwa, James N. Mills, Deborah L. Cannon, Patricia W. Greer, Emmanuel Byaruhanga, Eileen C. FarnonPatrick Atimnedi, Samuel Okware, Edward Katongole-Mbidde, Robert Downing, Jordan W. Tappero, Sherif R. Zaki, Thomas G. Ksiazek, Stuart T. Nichol, Pierre E. Rollin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

498 Scopus citations


In July and September 2007, miners working in Kitaka Cave, Uganda, were diagnosed with Marburg hemorrhagic fever. The likely source of infection in the cave was Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) based on detection of Marburg virus RNA in 31/611 (5.1%) bats, virus-specific antibody in bat sera, and isolation of genetically diverse virus from bat tissues. The virus isolates were collected nine months apart, demonstrating long-term virus circulation. The bat colony was estimated to be over 100,000 animals using mark and re-capture methods, predicting the presence of over 5,000 virus-infected bats. The genetically diverse virus genome sequences from bats and miners closely matched. These data indicate common Egyptian fruit bats can represent a major natural reservoir and source of Marburg virus with potential for spillover into humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1000536
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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