Mouse hepatitis virus strain A59 produces chronic central nervous system demyelination in rodents. As late as 6 months after intracerebral inoculation of mice 4 to 6 weeks old, when infectious virus cannot be recovered and viral antigens cannot be detected in the central nervous systems and livers of these animals, primary demyelination is still evident. Using cloned virus-specific DNAs and the highly sensitive and specific technique of in situ hybridization, we have detected low levels of mouse hepatitis virus A59 RNA in the central nervous systems and livers of mice 10 months after inoculation. We suggest that viral persistence may play a role in mouse hepatitis virus A59-induced chronic demyelination
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