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Diseases » Arenaviruses » Contagiousness
 

Is Arenaviruses Contagious?

Transmission of Arenaviruses from Person to Person

Arenaviruses is considered to be contagious between people. Generally the infectious agent may be transmitted by saliva, air, cough, fecal-oral route, surfaces, blood, needles, blood transfusions, sexual contact, mother to fetus, etc.
Arenaviruses, although infectious, is not a genetic disease. It is not caused by a defective or abnormal gene.

Transmission of Arenaviruses from Animals

The transmission of Arenaviruses can be by way of:

  • rodents.

Discussion about Contagion of Arenaviruses:

The rodent hosts of arenaviruses are chronically infected with the viruses; however, the viruses do not appear to cause obvious illness in them. Some Old World arenaviruses appear to be passed from mother rodents to their offspring during pregancy, and thus remain in the rodent population generation after generation. Some New World arenaviruses are transmitted among adult rodents, likely via fighting and inflicting bites. Only a portion of the rodents in each host species is infected at any one time, and in many cases only in a limited portion of the host’s geographical range. The viruses are shed into the environment in the urine or droppings of their infected hosts.

Human infection with arenaviruses is incidental to the natural cycle of the viruses and occurs when an individual comes into contact with the excretions or materials contaminated with the excretions of an infected rodent, such as ingestion of contaminated food, or by direct contact of abraded or broken skin with rodent excrement. Infection can also occur by inhalation of tiny particles soiled with rodent urine or saliva (aerosol transmission). The types of incidental contact depend on the habits of both humans and rodents. For example, where the infected rodent species prefers a field habitat, human infection is associated with agricultural work. In areas where the rodent species’ habitat includes human homes or other buildings, infection occurs in domestic settings.

Some arenaviruses, such as Lassa and Machupo viruses, are associated with secondary person-to-person and nosocomial (health-care setting) transmission. This occurs when a person infected by exposure to the virus from the rodent host spreads the virus to other humans. This may occur in a variety of ways. Person-to-person transmission is associated with direct contact with the blood or other excretions, containing virus particles, of infected individuals. Airborne transmission has also been reported in connection with certain viruses. Contact with objects contaminated with these materials, such as medical equipment, is also associated with transmission. In these situations, use of protective clothing and disinfection procedures (together called barrier nursing) help prevent further spread of illness. (Source: excerpt from Arenaviridae: DVRD)

About contagion and contagiousness:

Contagion and contagiousness refers to how easily the spread of Arenaviruses is possible from one person to another. Other words for contagion include "infection", "infectiousness", "transmission" or "transmissability". Contagiousness has nothing to do with genetics or inheriting diseases from parents. For an overview of contagion, see Introduction to Contagion.

 

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