Volume 56, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Specific rodent species are principal hosts for each of the well-characterized members of the virus family Arenaviridae. Guanarito virus (Arenaviridae) is the etiologic agent of Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever. A previous study on the epidemiology of Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever revealed extensive arenavirus infection (presumed to be caused by Guanarito virus) in two rodent species, and , collected from the region of Venezuela in which the disease is endemic. In the present study, four arenavirus isolates recovered from the Municipality of Guanarito (two isolates each from and ) were characterized to learn more about the natural rodent host relationships of Guanarito virus. Serologic tests and analyses of nucleocapsid protein gene sequence data indicated that the two isolates from are strains of Guanarito virus and that the two isolates from are representatives of a novel New World arenavirus (proposed name Pirital) that is antigenically and phylogenetically distinct from all known New World arenaviruses. The results of the present study provide further evidence that the cane mouse is a natural host of Guanarito virus and suggest that the cotton rat is the natural reservoir host of Pirital but not Guanarito virus.


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