Diagnosis of ebola virus disease: Past, present, and future

M. Jana Broadhurst, Tim J.G. Brooks, Nira R. Pollock

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Laboratory diagnosis of Ebola virus disease plays a critical role in outbreak response efforts; however, establishing safe and expeditious testing strategies for this high-biosafety-level pathogen in resource-poor environments remains extremely challenging. Since the discovery of Ebola virus in 1976 via traditional viral culture techniques and electron microscopy, diagnostic methodologies have trended toward faster, more accurate molecular assays. Importantly, technological advances have been paired with increasing efforts to support decentralized diagnostic testing capacity that can be deployed at or near the point of patient care. The unprecedented scope of the 2014- 2015 West Africa Ebola epidemic spurred tremendous innovation in this arena, and a variety of new diagnostic platforms that have the potential both to immediately improve ongoing surveillance efforts in West Africa and to transform future outbreak responses have reached the field. In this review, we describe the evolution of Ebola virus disease diagnostic testing and efforts to deploy field diagnostic laboratories in prior outbreaks. We then explore the diagnostic challenges pervading the 2014-2015 epidemic and provide a comprehensive examination of novel diagnostic tests that are likely to address some of these challenges moving forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)773-793
Number of pages21
JournalClinical Microbiology Reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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