On 29 June 2015, Liberia's respite from Ebola virus disease (EVD) was interrupted for the second time by a renewed outbreak ("flare-up") of seven confirmed cases. We demonstrate that, similar to the March 2015 flare-up associated with sexual transmission, this new flare-up was a reemergence of a Liberian transmission chain originating from a persistently infected source rather than a reintroduction from a reservoir or a neighboring country with active transmission. Although distinct, Ebola virus (EBOV) genomes from both flare-ups exhibit significantly low genetic divergence, indicating a reduced rate of EBOV evolution during persistent infection. Using this rate of change as a signature, we identified two additional EVD clusters that possibly arose from persistently infected sources. These findings highlight the risk of EVD flare-ups even after an outbreak is declared over.
ASJC Scopus subject areas