Multitasking to prevent viral hemorrhagic fevers

New World arenaviruses are pathogens capable of zoonotic infections that cause viral hemorrhagic fevers, which are frequently fatal in humans. However, a recombinant live attenuated pentavalent vaccine shows promising efficacy against infection.

Viral hemorrhagic fevers caused by pathogenic mamarenaviruses are endemic in certain regions of West Africa (Old World) and South America (New World). These emerging and primarily rodent-borne viruses can be transmitted from person to person through aerosols or direct contact with bodily secretions and pose risks of epidemic or pandemic spread, as highlighted by repeated outbreaks of Lassa virus (LASV) infection in countries from West Africa. such as Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone1. In South America, the presence of hemorrhagic fever viruses has been known since the 1950s. There are currently several New World arenaviruses (NWAs) that can cause severe illness in this region, with mortality rates of up to 30%2. The most frequent causes of viral hemorrhagic fever in South America are the Junín (Argentina), Sabia (Brazil), Guanarito (Venezuela), Machupo (Bolivia) and Chapare (Bolivia) viruses. Each virus is harbored by its respective rodent host and is usually restricted to the host’s habitat range. Although historically infections and outbreaks have been sporadic, the high mortality associated with NWA infection, the potential for person-to-person transmission, and the lack of available effective therapies underscore the need for an effective vaccine to target NWAs. Changes in the rodent host environment due to human activity and climate change also increase the potential for viral spread and the occurrence of viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks.