Chapter 44 : Arenaviruses

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Arenaviruses are negative-stranded RNA viruses that cause chronic infections of rodents and zoonotically acquired diseases in humans. Other arenaviruses known from South America and Africa are common causes of the viral hemorrhagic fever (HF) syndrome in the areas in which they occur naturally. lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), Lassa virus, and other African arenaviruses compose the Old World arenaviruses, and the viruses from North and South America are referred to as the New World, American, or Tacaribe arenavirus serologic complex. The best-studied example of adaptation by arenaviruses is the work with variants of LCMV that can be isolated from different organs of neonatally infected mice. There are now several examples of chronic infections of laboratory rodents in which arenaviruses affect critical enzyme or hormone synthesis without morphological lesions being apparent. The major differences between the pathogenesis of Lassa fever and that of the South American HFs are quantitative rather than qualitative. The differential diagnosis may include early stages of human immunodeficiency virus infection, measles, hepatitis, infectious mononucleosis, collagen vascular diseases, and early stages of nephritis. The value of oral or intravenous ribavirin in prophylaxis of exposures to Lassa virus and other arenaviruses is uncertain, in part as neither the dose nor the duration for humans is established. Several additional candidate drugs with activity against arenavirus have been identified by in vitro screening, and others are being discovered through the intensive interest generated by biodefense programs.

Citation: Peters C. 2009. Arenaviruses, p 1009-1029. In Richman D, Whitley R, Hayden F (ed), Clinical Virology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815981.ch44

Key Concept Ranking

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus
Yellow fever virus
Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha
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Image of FIGURE 1

Old World arenaviruses and distribution of the genus on the African continent. Lassa fever is a clinical problem in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria. Other arenaviruses are shown with their countries of isolation. It is not known if they are pathogenic for humans, but at least some are thought not to be so on the basis of reduced virulence for nonhuman primates. There are several other viruses from and other species that have been isolated from antibody-positive rodent species in South Africa and are being characterized (R. Swanepoel, personal communication). LCMV has not been convincingly demonstrated on the African continent but may well exist in port cities and other areas where has been introduced. (Prepared by A. Sanchez.)

Citation: Peters C. 2009. Arenaviruses, p 1009-1029. In Richman D, Whitley R, Hayden F (ed), Clinical Virology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815981.ch44
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Image of FIGURE 2

New World arenaviruses in the Americas. Circles denote the places of isolation and the approximate areas of known distribution. (Prepared by A. Sanchez.)

Citation: Peters C. 2009. Arenaviruses, p 1009-1029. In Richman D, Whitley R, Hayden F (ed), Clinical Virology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815981.ch44
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Image of FIGURE 3

Phylogenetic relationships of the Old World arenaviruses. The tree is based on nucleotide sequences from the conserved region of the S RNA segment. Note that the geographically distant Lassa virus strains from Nigeria differ from those in Sierra Leone and Liberia. 20410 is the prototype Mopeia virus strain from Mozambique. (Prepared by J. C. S. Clegg.)

Citation: Peters C. 2009. Arenaviruses, p 1009-1029. In Richman D, Whitley R, Hayden F (ed), Clinical Virology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815981.ch44
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Image of FIGURE 4

Phylogenetic relationships of the New World, or Tacaribe complex, arenaviruses and their relation to the Old World viruses. The tree is based on the nucleotide 613 to 649 region of the N protein gene constructed by the method of Fitch and Margoliash. Branch lengths are proportional to distance, with twofold weighting of transversions. The scale bar indicates 10% difference, and numbers indicate the percentage of 1,000 bootstrap replicates supporting interior nodes. See Table 1 for abbreviations. (Prepared by M. Bowen and S. Nichol.)

Citation: Peters C. 2009. Arenaviruses, p 1009-1029. In Richman D, Whitley R, Hayden F (ed), Clinical Virology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815981.ch44
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Image of FIGURE 5

Diagram of an arenavirus virion. The typical diameter is around 100 nm, and the shape is pleomorphic but basically spherical. The envelope is composed of tetrameric complexes of G2 anchored in the lipid bilayer and attached to G1 by ionic forces; they are visible as peplomers. N proteins are thought to be circularized. The L protein and Z protein are both associated with virions, but their localization is unknown. (Prepared by A. Sanchez.)

Citation: Peters C. 2009. Arenaviruses, p 1009-1029. In Richman D, Whitley R, Hayden F (ed), Clinical Virology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815981.ch44
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Image of FIGURE 6

Replication strategy. See text for details. (Prepared by A. Sanchez.)

Citation: Peters C. 2009. Arenaviruses, p 1009-1029. In Richman D, Whitley R, Hayden F (ed), Clinical Virology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815981.ch44
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Arenaviruses, their hosts, and their geographic distribution

Citation: Peters C. 2009. Arenaviruses, p 1009-1029. In Richman D, Whitley R, Hayden F (ed), Clinical Virology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815981.ch44
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Arenaviruses pathogenic for humans

Citation: Peters C. 2009. Arenaviruses, p 1009-1029. In Richman D, Whitley R, Hayden F (ed), Clinical Virology, Third Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815981.ch44

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