Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BackgroundTo date, epidemiological studies at the index site of the 2013-16 west African Ebola outbreak in Meliandou, Guinea, have been restricted in their scope. We aimed to determine the occurrence of previously undocumented Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases and infections, and to reconstruct transmission events.MethodsThis cross-sectional seroprevalence survey of the adult population of Meliandou used a highly specific oral fluid test and detailed interviews of all households in the village and key informants. Each household was interviewed, with all members prompted to describe the events of the outbreak, any illness within the household, and possible contact with suspected cases. Information for deceased individuals was provided by relatives living in the same household. Symptoms were based on Ebola virus Makona variant EVD case definitions (focusing on fever, vomiting, and diarrhoea). For antibody testing, we used an Ebola virus glycoprotein IgG capture enzyme immunoassay developed from a previously validated assay. A maximum exposure level was assigned to every participant using a predetermined scale. We used a generalised linear model (logit function) to estimate odds ratios for the association of sociodemographic variables and exposure level with Ebola virus infection. We adjusted estimates for age and maximum exposure, as appropriate.FindingsBetween June 22, and July 9, 2017, we enrolled 237 participants from 27 households in Meliandou. Two households refused to participate and one was absent. All adults in participating households who were present for the interview provided an oral fluid swab for testing, of which 224 were suitable for analysis. In addition to the 11 EVD deaths described previously, on the basis of clinical description and oral fluid testing, we found two probable EVD deaths and eight previously unrecognised anti-Ebola virus IgG-positive survivors, including one who had mild symptoms and one who was asymptomatic, resulting in a case fatality of 55·6% (95% CI 30·8-78·5) for adults. Health-care work (adjusted odds ratio 6·64, 1·54-28·56; p=0·001) and level of exposure (odds ratio adjusted for linear trend across five levels 2·79, 1·59-4·883; p<0·0001) were independent risk factors for infection.InterpretationEbola virus infection was more widespread in this spillover population than previously recognised (21 vs 11 cases). We show the first serological evidence of survivors in this population (eight anti-Ebola virus IgG seropositive) and report a case fatality lower than previously reported (55·6% vs 100% in adults). These data show the high community coverage achievable by using a non-invasive test and, by accurately documenting the beginnings of the west African Ebola virus outbreak, reveal important insight into transmission dynamics and risk factors that underpin Ebola virus spillover events.FundingUS Food and Drug Administration, Wellcome Trust, and German Research Council.

Original publication




Journal article


The Lancet. Infectious diseases

Publication Date





429 - 438


London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK. Electronic address:


Saliva, Humans, Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola, Immunoglobulin G, Antibodies, Viral, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Risk Factors, Retrospective Studies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Seroepidemiologic Studies, Family Characteristics, Disease Outbreaks, Adolescent, Adult, Middle Aged, Child, Preschool, Survivors, Guinea, Female, Male, Ebolavirus, Young Adult, Surveys and Questionnaires