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:
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 hosts
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.
» Next page: Treatments for Arenaviruses
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