Arboviruses and Lemurs in Madagascar: Experimental Infection of Lemur Fulvus with Yellow Fever and West Nile Viruses

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  • ** Laboratoire des Arbovirus, Unité d'Ecologie Virale, Institut Pasteur, 75015 Paris, France
  • | Laboratoire d'Ecologie Générale, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Brunoy, France
  • | Laboratoire d'Ecologie Animale, Faculté des Sciences, 25035 Besançon, France
  • | § Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, B.P. 1274, Antananarivo, Madagascar

In previous serological surveys of lemurs in Madagascar, antibodies against flaviviruses were frequently detected. To examine the epidemiological role of Lemur fulvus, experimental infections with yellow fever (YF) virus and West Nile (WN) virus were performed. YF and WN infections were clinically unapparent. A 3 to 4-day-long viremia, with moderate levels was observed with YF virus. WN virus, especially the strain isolated in Madagascar, provoked a 4 to 6-day-long viremia sufficient to infect Aedes aegypti. In all experiments, the antibody response was studied during the following weeks by 3 methods. The results led to the conclusion that Malagasy lemurs could act as amplifying hosts for WN virus present in Madagascar, and as hosts for YF virus if it were introduced on the island. The epidemiological role of these primates is discussed according to their ecology and their contact with potential mosquito vectors in forest areas of Madagascar.