Monkey model of hantavirus disease established

NIH scientists establish monkey model of hantavirus disease
A sin nombre virus particle emerges from a cell. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers have developed an animal model of human hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in rhesus macaques, an advance that may lead to treatments, vaccines and improved methods of diagnosing the disease. The study, conducted by researchers at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

People become infected with hantaviruses by inhaling virus from the urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents. This infection can progress to HPS, a severe respiratory disease that was first identified in 1993 in the southwestern United States. HPS attained global attention in the summer of 2012 when physicians diagnosed 10 cases—three of them fatal—in Yosemite National Park in California. The primary HPS agents are Sin Nombre virus in North America and Andes virus in South America. Since 1993, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported approximately 600 HPS cases, including 200 deaths, in the United States; case numbers for South America are not available.

In their study, NIAID scientists infected healthy deer mice with Sin Nombre virus obtained from descendants of wild deer mice. The researchers then exposed 10 to the virus derived from the newly infected . Nine monkeys became infected and seven developed severe disease. In the diseased macaques, researchers observed how and where the virus established infection, evaded the immune system and caused pneumonia. Of note, they report that, similar to hantavirus infection in people, the virus in the monkey model triggers a life-threatening immune response nearly two weeks after infection.

NIAID researchers aim to identify biological markers during that initial timeframe that may be useful for early diagnosis.

More information: Safronetz et al. Pathophysiology of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in rhesus macaques. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1401998111 (2014).

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

More Yosemite tourists infected with deadly virus

Aug 31, 2012

Six visitors to California's famous Yosemite National Park have now been infected with a rare rodent-born virus, two of whom have died, officials said Thursday, in an update on the outbreak.

10,000 Yosemite tourists could face deadly virus

Sep 01, 2012

Some 10,000 visitors to California's Yosemite National Park could have been exposed to a deadly virus that kills one in three victims and cannot be treated, officials said Friday.

9th Yosemite Park hantavirus case

Sep 13, 2012

(AP)—The National Park Service says a ninth visitor to Yosemite National Park has been infected with the rodent-borne illness hantavirus.

US official: Yosemite visitor recovered from virus

Sep 14, 2012

(AP)—A visitor to Yosemite National Park has recovered after becoming the ninth person diagnosed with a deadly rodent-borne illness blamed for three deaths among those who spent time at the park this summer, officials said.

Recommended for you

Arriving now at gate 42: measles

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—Traveling through the same U.S. airport gate, one infected passenger transmitted the measles virus to three others within a four-hour time span, illustrating just how easily the virus can spread, ...

Scratch from pet rat kills child; CDC warns of risk

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—The tragic death from "rat-bite fever" of a 10-year-old San Diego boy highlights the risk carried by the pet rodents, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.