The stories about viruses never stop to amaze us and to make us afraid at the same time. Their invisible existence have the power to defeat the whole world with no mercy. The viruses are not evil by their nature; they are simply skilled to survive all. If any form of life could be considered as a perfect one, I believe that tiny molecular parasites deserve to be titled as such. They are shaped by ultimate fight for survival, adjusted to the challenges of the evolution and equipped with strong mechanism of searching for a right host. There is no army capable to destroy the world at one second of time as the army of deadly germs.


Researching, working or even writing about viruses is almost like a dancing with the wolves or surfing with the sharks. You could be eaten up if you go too much close to them or if you forget to keep the respect for the stealth weapon of nature. The worldwide outbreaks confirm every day that the humankind is not progressed enough to deal with epidemics and to regulate the chaotic universe of microorganisms.

Among many on the scary list of human health nightmares, the rodent borne Guanarito virus seems like a newborn star as well as the highly lethal disease it causes, Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever. Here we are talking about zoonotic human illness that has been identified in 1989, in rural areas of central Venezuela:” The short-tailed cane mouse is the main host. The virus is spread mostly by inhalation of aerosolized droplets of saliva, respiratory secretions, urine, or blood from infected rodents. Person-to-person spread is also possible. It causes fever and malaise, followed by hemorrhagic manifestations and convulsions. Some presentations of the virus are also characterized by vascular damage, bleeding diathesis, fever, and multiple organ involvement. The disease is fatal in 30% of cases. It is speculated that demographic and ecological changes in the rural areas increased the frequency of contact between humans and infected rodents such that VHF emerged. This virus was so dangerous and facilely transmitted, that the initial speculation on the disease origins was as a biological warfare agent. This disease is in the earliest phase of an emerging zoonotic disease threat. As the Guanarito virus continues to incubate and mutate in its rodent host, then jumps hosts and migrates north, it is possible that decades from now Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever could become a major lethal threat in the Americas and beyond.”


This new Arenavirus shows the signs of resistance as many of those that are incubating in animal hosts. Due to the industrial colonization, humankind’s megalomania and corporative attack on natural resources and wildlife free zone, the viruses are released and attributed with mutation. The possibility to mutate or to adapt to the new environmental and organic conditions is the leading part of their survival schema.


Guanarito virus shares some similarities with Lassa and Machupo virus but it develops its own style of molecular spread. The fever and malaise follow this disease as well as the vascular damage, bleeding diathesis and multiple organ involvement. The worst fact about this illness is that is fatal in 30,3% of cases, depending on time when the right diagnosis is defined.

During the agricultural activity in the region of endemicity, between November and January, the risk of being infected with Guanarito virus is on rise, especially in the Portuguesa State and regions of Barinas State in Venezuela, tropical areas with heavy rains. The second reason for Guanarito virus to be spread because of the wild rodents is deforestation and moving the agricultural territories of people more into the direction of rain forests and untouched nature.


The all members of Arenavirus family are usually linked to the animals as their hosts but due to the jumping from one species to another, these zoonotic diseases get malign nature and the process of infection is not very naïve, especially because of the lack of treatment. This is one of the reasons why the epidemiology recognizes the two groups of Arenaviruses:” Tacaribe complex viruses are generally associated with the New World rats and mice (family Muridae, subfamily Sigmodontinae). The LCM/Lassa complex viruses are associated with the Old World rats and mice (family Muridae, subfamily Murinae). Taken together, these types of rodents are located across the greater proportion of the earth’s land mass, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. One notable exception is Tacaribe virus, found in Trinidad, which was isolated from bats and mosquitoes”


The Guanarito virus belongs to the New World Arenaviruses and to the Tacaribe complex. The problem about these viruses is not so much their biological invasive nature but the way they could be transmitted. It is stated that some viruses of this category come to the people through the contaminated urine or saliva but there are those, which are transferred from person-to-person. I believe that the range of outbreak is multidimensional when all channels of transmission are opened. As long as people keep messing with the ultimate borders of the nature, they will be exposed to the new emerging diseases, without the real medical treatment. If we look back on the progress of civilization, we must admit that the critical health problems have started with the industrial colonization of the areas that haven’t been supposed for it. We cant take all and pretend that we are doing right things. Unfortunately, we are doing only wrong things and the rise of illnesses and deaths worldwide speak more about the humankind’s materialism than about the organic and genetic sensibility. This Planet has not been created only for people and since we do not know how to stop our appetite for destruction, the invisible killers will deal with us and put us on the place we belong to.


The Guanarito virus is not a nightmare of Ebola capacity but it is not there to be denied. It is just a matter of time when this tiny crystal particle will turn the patient zero into the patient million and one. It is just a matter of time when our world will be theirs.





  1. Thank you, Sarah, for yet another educational article !

    Mankind has to learn to respect the borders between humans and nature ! It’s time mankind stopped destroying rainforests !

    It’s also time mankind stopped killing animals just to satisfy their taste buds. Not only is it extremely cruel, but it’s also causing an ecological imbalance which will punish humans with a vengeance !

    Outstanding research as always, Sarah !


  2. Sarah’s informative and allusive article reminded me of the novel ‘The Lost World’ (1912), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: it concerns an expedition to a plateau in The Amazon Basin of South America, where prehistoric animals (i.e. dinosaurs and other extinct creatures) still survive.

    The setting for The Lost World is believed to have been inspired by reports of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s good friend Percy Harrison Fawcett’s expedition to Huanchaca Plateau in The Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Bolivia. Fawcett organised several expeditions to delimit the border between Bolivia and Brazil; an area of potential conflict between both countries. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took part in the lecture by Fawcett in The Royal Geographic Society in 1911.

    Fawcett wrote in his posthumously published memoirs ‘Monsters from the dawn of man’s existence might still roam these heights unchallenged, and protected by unscalable cliffs…’

    Global climate change caused by anthropogenic increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide will most likely reverse the expansion of tropical rainforest in The Noel Kempff Mercado National Park. This process will cause mature trees of considerable size to have an increased mortality; creating more gaps within the forest and making the rain forest more vulnerable to the effects of increasing droughts. A drier rainforest leads to an increase in fire frequency; allowing for an ecological shift of rainforest to dry forest. As a consequence, many of the rainforest species may become extinct within the next 100 years. This increases the likelihood of specific diseases like the Guanarito Virus to proliferate. Furthermore, movements of birds and rainforest species northward towards The Amazon River would be greatly limited due to loss of forest within the park.

    Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever (VHF) is a zoonotic human illness first identified in 1989. The disease is most prevalent in several rural areas of central Venezuela and is caused by the Guanarito virus (GTOV) which belongs to the Arenaviridae family. The short-tailed cane mouse (Zygodontomys brevicauda) is the main host for GTOV, which is spread mostly by inhalation of aerosolized droplets of saliva, respiratory secretions, urine, or blood from infected rodents. Person-to-person spread is possible, but uncommon.

    Oryzomyines range from New Jersey in the north, where the Marsh Rice Rat (Oryzomys palustris) is found, to Tierra del Fuego in the south, where Oligoryzomys magellanicus occurs. They are abundant in many environments, from rainforest to grassland. Most live in the forest, but Zygodontomys, Lundomys, Pseudoryzomys, Aegialomys, and Nesoryzomys live exclusively in open vegetation and some other genera include both forest and non-forest forms. Most oryzomyines are relatively unspecialized animals that live on the ground, but Oecomys is specialized to live in trees and various members of clade D, including Holochilus, Oryzomys, and Nectomys, are semiaquatic, spending at least some of their time in the water.


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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !