Ebola test directory now live

The most recent outbreak of Ebola in Uganda is becoming one of the largest of the SUBOV species of ebolavirus to date. As far as we know, existing PCR tests that claim pan-Ebola detection (the majority of which are for use in a laboratory) can detect SUBOV.

However, many of the point-of-care or near-point-of-care tests that were developed and received WHO or FDA emergency use authorization during the 2013–2016 West Africa epidemic were made specifically for a different ebolavirus strain, ZEBOV, so may not be useful for this outbreak.

Until now, there has been no central catalogue of tests for ebolavirus species detection, outside of the WHO and FDA emergency use authorization lists. FIND aims to fill this gap by collating a searchable directory of Ebola diagnostic tests, which is now publicly available online. We invite developers to submit details of their tests for inclusion in this database. In case of queries about the submission process, please contact testdirectory@finddx.org.

Fast facts: Ebola diagnostic tests

  • There are four species of ebolavirus known to cause disease in humans:
    • ZEBOV: Zaire ebolavirus (first outbreak identified in Zaire, 1976)
    • SUBOV: Sudan ebolavirus (Sudan, 1976)
    • TAFV: Tai Forest ebolavirus (Côte d’Ivoire, 1995)
    • BEBOV: Bundibugyo ebolavirus (Uganda, 2007)
  • Molecular PCR testing is the standard diagnostic platform, with some rapid tests developed for use in the community
  • Most commercial diagnostics are oriented toward ZEBOV, the most frequent and pathogenic species of ebolavirus
  • “In-house” and a few commercial PCR kits are available for SUBOV detection. There is no rapid test for SUBOV available
  • No effort has been made to maintain manufacturing or safety stocks of PCR test kits after previous large outbreaks in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo concluded
  • Limited surge capacity exists to manage an outbreak that gets out of control, and would require a dedicated effort to ramp up test kit production

Major challenges continue in diagnosing and confirming Ebola cases in a timely manner. There remains a significant need to evaluate current tests to confirm SUBOV detection, and for further development of highly sensitive point-of-care tests that allow for detection of multiple ebolavirus species.

This Ebola test directory is the latest in a series being maintained by FIND. Other test directories already online include those for COVID-19, monkeypox, and selected neglected tropical diseases that have particular unmet diagnostic needs. Additional directories are planned in the future.

For more information, please contact us.

Dan Bausch
Senior Advisor for Global Health Security