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Machupo virus
Virus classification
Group: Group V ((-)ssRNA)
Family: Arenaviridae
Genus: Arenavirus

Machupo virus

Bolivian hemorrhagic fever
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 A96.1
ICD-9 078.7
DiseasesDB 31899
MeSH D006478

Bolivian hemorrhagic fever (BHF), also known as black typhus, Ordog Fever, or Machupo virus, is a hemorrhagic fever and zoonotic infectious disease occurring in Bolivia.

First identified in 1959 by a research group led by Karl Johnson,[1] it is caused by infection with machupo virus,[2] a negative single-stranded RNA virus of the Arenaviridae family. The mortality rate is estimated at 5 to 30 percent. Due to its pathogenicity, Machupo virus requires Biosafety Level Four conditions, the highest level.





The vector is the vesper mouse Calomys callosus, a rodent indigenous to northern Bolivia. Infected animals are asymptomatic and shed virus in excretions, by which humans are infected. Evidence of person-to-person transmission of Machupo virus exists but is believed to be rare.[3]


Measures to reduce contact between the vesper mouse and humans have effectively limited the number of outbreaks, with no cases identified between 1973 and 1994. A vaccine being developed for the genetically related Junín virus which causes Argentine hemorrhagic fever has shown evidence of cross-reactivity with Machupo virus and may be an effective prophylactic measure for people at high risk of infection.

There are no cures or immunizations for this disease, although those who have contracted it are immune. Treatment options are limited, mostly to supportive care, but are sometimes successful if started early.


The infection has a slow onset with fever, malaise, headache and muscular pains. Petechiae (blood spots) on the upper body and bleeding from the nose and gums are observed when the disease progresses to the hemorrhagic phase, usually within seven days of onset.


Bolivian hemorrhagic fever was one of three hemorrhagic fevers and one of more than a dozen agents that the United States researched as potential biological weapons before the nation suspended its biological weapons program.[4]



  1. ^ "Machupo". Retrieved 2009-01-22.  
  2. ^ Webb PA, Johnson KM, Mackenzie RB, Kuns ML (July 1967). "Some characteristics of Machupo virus, causative agent of Bolivian hemorrhagic fever". Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 16 (4): 531–8. PMID 4378149.  
  3. ^ Kilgore, et al., (1995), pp..
  4. ^ "Chemical and Biological Weapons: Possession and Programs Past and Present", James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury College, April 9, 2002, accessed November 14, 2008.


  • Kilgore PE, Peters CJ, Mills JN, et al. (1995). "Prospects for the control of Bolivian hemorrhagic fever". Emerging Infect. Dis. 1 (3): 97–100. PMID 8903174.  


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