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Antivir Chem Chemother. 2000 Jul;11(4):303-9.

Treatment of cowpox virus respiratory infections in mice with ribavirin as a single agent or followed sequentially by cidofovir.

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Institute for Antiviral Research, Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, USA.


To better understand the potential of ribavirin in the treatment of orthopoxvirus infections (such as those acquired through bioterrorist activities), the efficacy of the drug was studied in a cowpox respiratory infection model in mice under varying disease severity. Mice did not survive a high intranasal cowpox virus challenge [3 x 10(6) plaque forming units (pfu)/animal] treated with subcutaneous ribavirin (100 mg/kg/day for 5 days), but lived 3.9 days longer than placebos. In contrast, 100% of animals receiving the same dose of drug survived a 3 x 10(5) pfu challenge compared with 0% survival of those that received placebo. Survival rates of 50 and 30% occurred with ribavirin doses of 50 and 25 mg/kg/day, respectively. At the 100 mg/kg/day dose, ribavirin reduced lung virus titres 40-fold on day 6 of the infection relative to titres in the placebo group. Weight loss resulting from illness and mean lung weights of mice treated with ribavirin were also significantly reduced. Mice were infected intranasally with the high 3 x 10(6) pfu virus challenge dose and treated with 100 mg/kg/day ribavirin for 5 days, followed by single injections of 75 mg/kg cidofovir on day 6, 7, 8 or 9. Cidofovir alone (without ribavirin) administered on day 6 had no beneficial effect on disease outcome. Ribavirin alone increased the mean time to death by 3.7 days. Ribavirin treatment for 5 days followed by cidofovir treatment on days 6 and 7 significantly increased the mean time to death beyond that achieved with ribavirin alone by 8.2 and 4.4 days, respectively, with 30 and 40% of mice surviving the infection. These results suggest that many individuals infected with an orthopoxvirus by aerosol route would benefit by a course of ribavirin therapy. Later, the fewer number of very sick individuals could be treated with intravenous cidofovir.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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