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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Jan; 86(1): 317–321.
PMCID: PMC286455

Protection of rhesus monkeys from fatal Lassa fever by vaccination with a recombinant vaccinia virus containing the Lassa virus glycoprotein gene.


Lassa fever is an acute febrile disease of West Africa, where there are as many as 300,000 infections a year and an estimated 3000 deaths. As control of the rodent host is impracticable at present, the best immediate prospect is vaccination. We tested as potential vaccines in rhesus monkeys a closely related virus, Mopeia virus (two monkeys), and a recombinant vaccinia virus containing the Lassa virus glycoprotein gene, V-LSGPC (four monkeys). Two monkeys vaccinated with the New York Board of Health strain of vaccinia virus as controls died after challenge with Lassa virus. The two monkeys vaccinated with Mopeia virus developed antibodies measurable by radioimmunoprecipitation prior to challenge, and they survived challenge by Lassa virus with minimal physical or physiologic disturbances. However, both showed a transient, low-titer Lassa viremia. Two of the four animals vaccinated with V-LSGPC had antibodies to both Lassa glycoproteins, as determined by radioimmunoprecipitation. All four animals survived a challenge of Lassa virus but experienced a transient febrile illness and moderate physiologic changes following challenge. Virus was recoverable from each of these animals, but at low titer and only during a brief period, as observed for the Mopeia-protected animals. We conclude that V-LSGPC can protect rhesus monkeys against death from Lassa fever.

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