To gain insights into the pathogenicity of Imjin virus (MJNV), a newfound hantavirus isolated from the Ussuri white-toothed shrew (Crocidura lasiura), groups of Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) of varying ages (<1, 5, 10, 14, 21, 35 and 56 days) were inoculated by the intraperitoneal route with 1000 pfu of MJNV strains 04-55 and 05-11. MJNV-infected Syrian hamsters, aged 21 days or less, exhibited reduced activity, weight loss, respiratory distress, hind-limb paralysis and seizures. Death ensued 1 to 6 days after onset of clinical disease. MJNV RNA was detected in brain and other major organs by RT-PCR and real time-PCR. Histopathological examination showed alveolar hemorrhage, interstitial pneumonia and severe pulmonary congestion; focal hepatic necrosis and portal inflammation; and acute meningoencephalitis. By immunohistochemistry, MJNV antigen was detected in pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells and glial cells. Older hamsters (35 and 56 days of age) developed subclinical infection without histopathological changes. Future studies are warranted to determine the pathophysiologic bases for the differential age susceptibility of Syrian hamsters to lethal MJNV disease.
Keywords: Hantavirus; Imjin virus; Meningoencephalitis; Syrian hamster.
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