Experimental Infection of Guinea Pigs with Venezuelan Hemorrhagic Fever Virus (Guanarito): A Model of Human Disease

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  • Pathology Division, Virology Division, and Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland
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Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever (VHF), a newly described disease caused by an arenavirus (Guanarito), has resulted in multiple human deaths in Venezuela. To develop an animal model of this disease, strain 13 and Hartley strain guinea pigs were inoculated subcutaneously with Guananto strain 95551 of arenavirus in a pilot study to determine susceptibility of the species to the virus. All animals were killed when moribund 12–14 days following inoculation. Animals were necropsied and tissues were fixed and examined by both light and electron microscopy. Viral antigen was demonstrated in the tissues by immunohistochemistry at both the light and electron microscopic levels. Lesions were characterized by single cell necrosis of epithelium of the gastrointestinal tract, interstitial pneumonia, lymphoid and hematopoietic cell necrosis, and the presence of platelet thrombi in occasional blood vessels associated with hemorrhage. Viral antigen was demonstrated in lymphoid tissues and macrophages, endothelial cells of multiple organs, pulmonary epithelium, epithelium of the gastrointestinal tract, and in miscellaneous other tissues and cells. Intact virions and typical arenavirus inclusions were demonstrated by immunoelectron microscopy in these tissues. Based on these findings, the guinea pig appears to be a valid animal model of the human disease.