Agent and Epidemiology

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is an arena virus that was discovered in 1933 but not classified until the late 1960s, when it was placed in the newly formed arena virus family of single-stranded RNA viruses with rodent reservoirs [2, 59]. Mus musculus, the common house mouse, is both the natural host and reservoir for the virus, which is transferred vertically within the mouse population by intrauterine infection [57, 59]. A nationwide outbreak in the 1970s provided evidence that pet (Syrian) hamsters may be competent alternative reservoirs [8,20,33,60,65]. Infections from house mice are associated with substandard housing, such as trailer parks and inner city dwellings [57]. Outbreaks have also been attributed to laboratory mice and hamsters; laboratory workers, especially those handling mice or hamsters, have a higher risk of infection [6,25,37]. Transmission is thought to be airborne; from contamination of food by infected mouse urine, feces, and saliva [37] or, possibly, from the bites of infected rodents [57]. The first case of congenital LCMV in the United States was reported in 1993 [45].

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