Prophylaxis of Rift Valley fever with antiviral drugs, immune serum, an interferon inducer, and a macrophage activator

Antiviral Res. 1986 Aug;6(5):285-97. doi: 10.1016/0166-3542(86)90024-0.


Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), a member of the family Bunyaviridae, extended its range from sub-Saharan Africa into Egypt in 1977. Its clinical spectrum is recognized to include severe manifestations such as hemorrhagic fever and encephalitis. For these reasons, as well as the limited knowledge of specific therapy for Bunyaviridae infections, we investigated several prophylactic regimens for RVF in a mouse model. Rimantadine, thiosemicarbazone, and inosiplex were ineffective. Pretreatment with glucan was of some use, but the most encouraging results were obtained with the antiviral drug ribavirin, passive antibody, or an interferon inducer polyriboinosinic-polyribocytidylic acid complexed with poly-L-lysine and carboxymethylcellulose (poly[ICLC]). Ribavirin and poly(ICLC) were also shown to be efficacious in preventing disease in hamsters. Ribavirin (loading dose of 50 mg/kg followed by 10 mg/kg at 8-h intervals for 9 days) suppressed viremia in RVF-infected rhesus monkeys. Ribavirin also reduced virus yield in infected cell cultures; sensitivity varied markedly with cell type but not with virus strain. Immune mouse ascitic fluid, with a plaque reduction neutralization titer of 1:1024, was effective in a dose of 4 ml/kg, a volume approximately equivalent to administration of a unit of convalescent plasma to a human. Poly(ICLC) may well have functioned through interferon induction, since RVFV was shown to be sensitive to interferon in cell culture, and since another macrophage activator (glucan) was only marginally effective. These studies suggest that ribavirin, poly(ICLC), and convalescent plasma may have a role in prevention or therapy of human RVF.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium / pharmacology
  • Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetinae
  • Female
  • Glucans / pharmacology
  • Glucans / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Passive*
  • Interferon Inducers / pharmacology
  • Interferon Inducers / therapeutic use
  • Interferons / pharmacology
  • Interferons / therapeutic use
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Macrophage Activation
  • Male
  • Mesocricetus
  • Methylcellulose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Poly I-C / pharmacology
  • Poly I-C / therapeutic use*
  • Polylysine / pharmacology
  • Polylysine / therapeutic use*
  • Ribavirin / pharmacology
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use
  • Rift Valley Fever / drug therapy*
  • Rift Valley Fever / prevention & control
  • Rift Valley fever virus / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Glucans
  • Interferon Inducers
  • Polylysine
  • Ribavirin
  • poly ICLC
  • Methylcellulose
  • Interferons
  • Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium
  • Poly I-C