Arenaviridae

Properties of Arenaviridae 500

Laboratory Diagnosis 503

Epidemiology 504

Diseases Caused by Arenaviruses 504

Prevention and Treatment 507

Further Reading 508

The prototype arenavirus is lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, which produces a clinically inapparent lifelong infection in mice and is occasionally transmitted to humans, in whom it causes disease ranging in severity from mild fever to meningitis. First isolated over 60 years ago, the virus has provided an important model for studies of persistent infections, immunological tolerance, virus-induced immune complex disease, and the role of the MHC complex (see Chapters 9 and 10). In 1969 another arenavirus made newspaper headlines. After a nurse from a mission in Lassa, Nigeria, had died in the hospital, a nurse who had attended her also died, and another who had assisted at her autopsy became desperately ill but recovered after intensive care following evacuation to the United States. A virus was isolated from her blood by virologists at Yale University, one of whom became ill but survived following transfusion with immune plasma from the previous patient; however, one of the Yale laboratory technicians later died. Lassa virus, like a number of other arenaviruses isolated from humans during outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever in South America, occurs as a lifelong, persistent, inapparent infection of its natural rodent host (Table 32-1).

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