1. State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430071, China 2. Laboratoire P4 Jean Mé rieux, National Institute for Health and Medical Research Inserm, 69365 Lyon Cedex 07, France
Ebola virus (EBOV) and Marburg virus (MARV) are causative agents of severe hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in humans and non-human primates and there is currently no licensed vaccine or therapeutics. To date, there is no specific laboratory diagnostic test in China. There is a national need to provide differential diagnosis during outbreaks and for instituting acceptable quarantine procedures. In this study, the TaqMan RT-PCR assays targeting the nucleoprotein gene of the Zaire Ebolavirus (ZEBOV) and MARV were developed and their sensitivities and specificities were investigated. Our results indicated that the assays were able to make reliable diagnosis over a wide range of virus copies from 103 to 109, corresponding to the threshold of a standard RNA transcript. The results showed that there were about 1010 RNA copies per milliliter of virus culture supernatant, equivalent to 10000 RNA molecules per infectious virion, suggesting the presence of many non-infectious particles. These data indicated that the TaqMan RT-PCR assays developed in this study will be suitable for future surveillance and specific diagnosis of ZEBOV and MARV in China.