Novel Arenavirus Isolates from Namaqua Rock Mice, Namibia, Southern Africa - Volume 21, Number 7—July 2015 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC
Volume 21, Number 7—July 2015
Novel Arenavirus Isolates from Namaqua Rock Mice, Namibia, Southern Africa
Arenaviruses are known to cause severe hemorrhagic fevers across the globe with case fatality rates up to 30% (1). The viruses possess a bisegmented, single-stranded RNA genome with ambisense coding strategy consisting of a small segment coding for the nucleoprotein and glycoprotein and a large (L) segment coding for the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and matrix protein.
In Africa, Lassa virus (LASV) and Lujo virus are the only known members of the family Arenaviridae that cause human disease (2,3); however, evidence for lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, another Arenaviridae sp., was recently reported in Gabon (4). Several other arenaviruses of unknown pathogenic potential have also been found in Africa: Gbagroube, Kodoko, and Menekre viruses from western Africa (5,6); Ippy (IPPYV) and Mobala viruses from central Africa; Mopeia, Morogoro, Luna, and Lunk viruses from eastern Africa; and Merino Walk virus (MWV) from southern Africa (7,8). All of these viruses are carried by rodents of the family Muridae.
Until now, no molecular detection of arenaviruses has been reported from Namibia. A study in 1991 described a low seroprevalence (0.8%) for LASV antibodies in humans in northern Namibia (9). Because of lack of data about arenavirus occurrence and effects in southwestern Africa, we conducted a study of small mammals from Namibia to detect infection with arenaviruses.
Dr. Witkowski is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Virology of the Charité Medical School in Berlin, Germany. His research interests are viral emerging infectious diseases on the African continent and their clinical impact and evolution.
We thank C. Chimimba for advice in small mammal systematics, P. Chimwamurombe for advice during preliminary screening for arenaviruses, and C. Priemer for technical support.
Trapping in Namibia was carried out under research permit nos. 1572/2011, 1666/2012 and 1794/2013, granted by Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
This study was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (grant KR1293/13-1) and by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under the contract no. DO7RP-0008-09.
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Suggested citation for this article: Witkowski PT, Kallies R, Hoveka J, Auste B, Ithete NL, Šoltys T, et al. Novel arenavirus isolates from Namaqua rock mice, Namibia, Southern Africa. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 Jul [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2107.141341