Natural History of Nonhuman Primates After Oral Exposure to Ebola Virus Variant Makona

Abhishek N. Prasad, Krystle N. Agans, Joan B. Geisbert, Viktoriya Borisevich, Daniel J. Deer, Natalie S. Dobias, Jason E. Comer, Courtney Woolsey, Karla A. Fenton, Thomas W. Geisbert, Robert W. Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. The primary route of infection by Ebola virus (EBOV) is through contact of mucosal surfaces. Few studies have explored infection of nonhuman primates (NHPs) via the oral mucosa, which is a probable portal of natural infection in humans. Methods. To further characterize the pathogenesis of EBOV infection via the oral exposure route, we challenged cohorts of cynomolgus monkeys with low doses of EBOV variant Makona. Results. Infection with 100 or 50 PFU of EBOV Makona via the oral route resulted in 50% and 83% lethality, respectively. Animals that progressed to fatal disease exhibited lymphopenia, marked coagulopathy, high viral loads, and increased levels of serum markers of inflammation and hepatic/renal injury. Survival in these cohorts was associated with milder fluctuations in leukocyte populations, lack of coagulopathy, and reduced or absent serum markers of inflammation and/or hepatic/renal function. Surprisingly, 2 surviving animals from the 100- and 50-PFU cohorts developed transient low-level viremia in the absence of other clinical signs of disease. Conversely, all animals in the 10 PFU cohort remained disease free and survived to the study end point. Conclusions. Our observations highlight the susceptibility of NHPs, and by extension, likely humans, to relatively low doses of EBOV via the oral route.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S571-S581
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
StatePublished - Nov 15 2023


  • EVD
  • Ebola virus
  • Filoviridae
  • Makona
  • filovirus
  • hemorrhagic fever virus
  • mucosal exposure
  • nonhuman primate
  • oral exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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