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J Virol. 2012 May;86(10):5791-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00201-12. Epub 2012 Feb 29.

Tacaribe virus causes fatal infection of an ostensible reservoir host, the Jamaican fruit bat.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado, USA.


Tacaribe virus (TCRV) was first isolated from 11 Artibeus species bats captured in Trinidad in the 1950s during a rabies virus surveillance program. Despite significant effort, no evidence of infection of other mammals, mostly rodents, was found, suggesting that no other vertebrates harbored TCRV. For this reason, it was hypothesized that TCRV was naturally hosted by artibeus bats. This is in stark contrast to other arenaviruses with known hosts, all of which are rodents. To examine this hypothesis, we conducted experimental infections of Jamaican fruit bats (Artibeus jamaicensis) to determine whether they could be persistently infected without substantial pathology. We subcutaneously or intranasally infected bats with TCRV strain TRVL-11573, the only remaining strain of TCRV, and found that low-dose (10(4) 50% tissue culture infective dose [TCID(50)]) inoculations resulted in asymptomatic and apathogenic infection and virus clearance, while high-dose (10(6) TCID(50)) inoculations caused substantial morbidity and mortality as early as 10 days postinfection. Uninoculated cage mates failed to seroconvert, and viral RNA was not detected in their tissues, suggesting that transmission did not occur. Together, these data suggest that A. jamaicensis bats may not be a reservoir host for TCRV.

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