, Volume 99, Issue 1-2, pp 31-44

Experimental Rift Valley fever in rhesus macaques

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Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a major cause of human morbidity and mortality in endemic areas of sub-Saharan Africa and has the potential to cause epidemic disease in receptive areas world-wide. In this study, a RVF viral isolate from the 1977 Egyptian epidemic (ZH-501) inoculated intravenously into rhesus macaques caused a benign viremic infection in most, but resulted in the hemorrhagic fever syndrome in 20 per cent (3 of 15). Serious disease of this type has not previously been observed in nonhuman primates inoculated with RVF virus and may be a consequence of the viral strain used or the route of inoculation. Severe disease was accompanied by extensive liver necrosis, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and microangiopathic hemolytic anemia.

We also attempted to prevent RVF by passive transfer of serum from vaccinated rhesus monkeys (plaque-reduction neutralization test titer 1:2,560). As little as 0.025 ml/kg prevented the development of viremia in naive rhesus monkeys after subcutaneous inoculation of virus. The monkey model should be helpful in understanding the pathogenesis and prevention of human RVF.