The Arenaviridae family consists of a unique Arenavirus genus that currently contains 22 recognized virus species. Arenaviruses are enveloped single-stranded RNA viruses, with a genome consisting of two RNA segments, designated large (L) and small (S). Arenavirus species and rodent species are strongly associated in a specific manner, suggestive of a possible co-evolutionary process. Arenaviruses infect a variety of rodent hosts in which they are often nonpathogenic, whereas several are highly pathogenic for humans, resulting in severe hemorrhagic or neurological syndromes in that accidental host. Since their discovery in the early 1930s, new arenaviruses have been discovered and/or have emerged as human pathogens.  Prevention of arenaviral disease consists of interrupting the transmission of virus from rodents to humans, from humans to humans, and from infected specimens to laboratory personnel.


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