Arenaviruses

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus has been found naturally infecting hamsters, as the most frequent, and less frequently, mice and guinea pigs. Furthermore, it is zoonotic and has the capability of infecting man. In a few unlucky cases, this may lead to meningitis. Most cases have been associated with pet hamsters.159,160,161 Infection may be persisting, in mice especially, if these are infected intrautero or within the first 7 days after birth. It has been widely used as experimental agent for studying viral immunology. It spreads slowly in the colony and prevalences seldom reach more than 10%, although the prevalence may be higher among animals in the lower racks.162 Vertical spread from mother to foster is the principal way of infection.163 Natural infections in mice and hamsters are normally silent, while more severe symptoms may be observed after infection with specific strains in guinea pigs.164 Serology is the principal method for routine monitoring.

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