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PLoS One. 2010 May 18;5(5):e10690. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010690.

Development of an acute and highly pathogenic nonhuman primate model of Nipah virus infection.

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  • 1National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories Institute, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.


Nipah virus (NiV) is an enigmatic emerging pathogen that causes severe and often fatal neurologic and/or respiratory disease in both animals and humans. Amongst people, case fatality rates range between 40 and 75 percent and there are no vaccines or treatments approved for human use. Guinea pigs, hamsters, cats, ferrets, pigs and most recently squirrel monkeys (New World monkey) have been evaluated as animal models of human NiV infection, and with the exception of the ferret, no model recapitulates all aspects of NiV-mediated disease seen in humans. To identify a more viable nonhuman primate (NHP) model, we examined the pathogenesis of NiV in African green monkeys (AGM). Exposure of eight monkeys to NiV produced a severe systemic infection in all eight animals with seven of the animals succumbing to infection. Viral RNA was detected in the plasma of challenged animals and occurred in two of three subjects as a peak between days 7 and 21, providing the first clear demonstration of plasma-associated viremia in NiV experimentally infected animals and suggested a progressive infection that seeded multiple organs simultaneously from the initial site of virus replication. Unlike the cat, hamster and squirrel monkey models of NiV infection, severe respiratory pathology, neurological disease and generalized vasculitis all manifested in NiV-infected AGMs, providing an accurate reflection of what is observed in NiV-infected humans. Our findings demonstrate the first consistent and highly pathogenic NHP model of NiV infection, providing a new and critical platform in the evaluation and licensure of either passive and active immunization or therapeutic strategies for human use.

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