Epidemiology and Disease
A member of the genus Arenavirus, Junin virus characteristically causes Argentine hemorrhagic fever (AHF). AHF leads to major alterations within the vascular, neurological and immune systems and has a mortality rate of between 20 and 30%. Symptoms of the disease are conjunctivitis, purpura, petechia and occasional sepsis. The symptoms of the disease are relatively indistinct and may therefore be mistaken for a different condition.
Since the discovery of the Junin virus in 1958, the geographical distribution of the pathogen, although still confined to Argentina, has risen. At the time of discovery, Junin virus was confined to an area of around 15,000 km². At the beginning of 2000, the distribution had risen to around 150,000 km². The natural hosts of Junin virus are rodents, particularly Mus musculus, Calomys spp. and Akodon azarae. Direct rodent to human transmission only transpires when contact is made with excrement of an infected rodent. This commonly occurs via ingestion of contaminated food or water, inhalation of particles within urine or via direct contact of broken skin with rodent excrement.
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