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Virulence. 2012 Jul 1;3(4):351-67. Epub 2012 Jun 22.

The encephalomyocarditis virus.

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Microbiology Immunology Department, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


The encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) is a small non-enveloped single-strand RNA virus, the causative agent of not only myocarditis and encephalitis, but also neurological diseases, reproductive disorders and diabetes in many mammalian species. EMCV pathogenesis appears to be viral strain- and host-specific, and a better understanding of EMCV virulence factors is increasingly required. Indeed, EMCV is often used as a model for diabetes and viral myocarditis, and is also widely used in immunology as a double-stranded RNA stimulus in the study of Toll-like as well as cytosolic receptors. However, EMCV virulence and properties have often been neglected. Moreover, EMCV is able to infect humans albeit with a low morbidity. Progress on xenografts, such as pig heart transplantation in humans, has raised safety concerns that need to be explored. In this review we will highlight the biology of EMCV and all known and potential virulence factors.

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