Ebola virus persistence in breast milk after no reported illness: a likely source of virus transmission from mother to child

  • 1 INSERM U1219, Bordeaux University, Bordeaux, France
  • 2 Bordeaux University Hospital, Bordeaux, France
  • 3 World Health Organization, Conakry, Guinea
  • 4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA
  • 5 The European Mobile Laboratory Consortium, Hamburg, Germany
  • 6 Ministry of Health Guinea, Conakry, Guinea
  • 7 Institute of Virology, Technische Universität München / Helmholtz Zentrum München, Munich, Germany
  • 8 Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany
  • 9 Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Division of Veterinary Medicine, Langen, Germany
  • 10 National Institute for Infectious Diseases L. Spallanzani, Rome, Italy
  • 11 Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
  • 12 Ratoma Ebola Diagnostic Center, Conakry, Guinea.
  • 13 Institut Pasteur Dakar, Dakar, Senegal
  • 14 Université Gamal Abdel Nasser de Conakry, Laboratoire des Fièvres Hémorragiques en Guinée, Conakry, Guinea
  • 15 Public Health England, Porton Down, Salisbury, UK
  • 16 University of Southampton, South General Hospital, Southampton, UK
  • 17 PAC-CI, ANRS Research Site, Treichville University Hospital, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
  • 18 World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 19 Institute of Microbiology and Infection, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
  • * Corresponding author: Sophie Duraffour, Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine, Bernhard-Nocht-Str. 74, 20359 Hamburg, Germany, Phone: +49 40 42818 940, Fax: +49 40 42818 931, e-mail: sophieduraffour{at}yahoo.fr


A nine-month-old infant died from Ebola virus (EBOV) disease with unknown epidemiological link. While her parents did not report previous illness, laboratory investigations revealed persisting EBOV RNA in the mother’s breast milk and the father’s seminal fluid. Genomic analysis strongly suggests EBOV transmission to the child through breastfeeding.

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