Experimental infection of ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) with monkeypox virus

Robert B. Tesh, Douglas M. Watts, Elena Sbrana, Marina Siirin, Vsevolod L. Popov, Shu Yuan Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


A proposed new small-animal (rodent) model for studying the pathogenesis and treatment of severe orthopoxvirus infections is described. Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) were infected intraperitoneally and intranasally with monkeypox virus (MPXV). A fulminant illness developed in all animals, and they died 6-9 days after infection. Virus was cultured from the blood and oropharynx several days before death; at necropsy, all of the organs tested contained relatively high titers of MPXV. The major pathologic findings were in the liver, which showed centrilobular necrosis, steatosis, and basophilic inclusion bodies in hepatocytes. Splenic necrosis was also observed, as well as interstitial inflammation in the lungs. The pathologic features of MPXV in ground squirrels are similar to that described with MPXV in macaques and severe variola (smallpox) virus infection in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1563-1567
Number of pages5
JournalEmerging infectious diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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