Discovery of an Ebolavirus-Like Filovirus in Europe

Ebola virus  Filoviruses cause lethal hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates. The family Filoviridae includes two genera: Marburgvirus (MARV) and Ebolavirus (EBOVs). MARV was discovered in 1967 in Marburg, Germany during an outbreak in laboratory staff exposed to tissues from monkeys imported from Uganda. The Zaire virus was discovered in 1976 in Yambuku, Zaire during a 312-person outbreak associated with 90% mortality. With the exception of Reston Ebolavirus that appears to be pathogenic in nonhuman primates but not in humans and is endemic in the Philippines, all known filoviruses are pathogenic in primates including humans and are endemic in Africa. Bats are implicated as reservoirs and vectors for transmission of filoviruses in Africa. Ebolavirus sequences have been found in various bats. Bats naturally or experimentally infected with Ebolaviruses are healthy and shed virus in their feces for up to 3 weeks.

In 2002, colonies of Schreiber’s bats (Miniopterus schreibersii), sustained massive die-offs in caves in France, Spain and Portugal. This paper report the first discovery of an ebolavirus-like filovirus in bats from Europe.


Discovery of an Ebolavirus-Like Filovirus in Europe. (2011) PLoS Pathog 7(10): e1002304. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002304
Filoviruses, amongst the most lethal of primate pathogens, have only been reported as natural infections in sub-Saharan Africa and the Philippines. Infections of bats with the ebolaviruses and marburgviruses do not appear to be associated with disease. Here we report identification in dead insectivorous bats of a genetically distinct filovirus, provisionally named Lloviu virus, after the site of detection, Cueva del Lloviu, in Spain.

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