Arenaviruses have unique structural characteristics; they are pleomorphic, have a mean diameter of 110-130 nm, and consist of a membranous envelope with surface projections surrounding an interior containing ribosomes and filaments. Virus particles bud from plasma membranes of infected cells and in many cases large intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies are formed. These characteristics allow generic identification, but not differentiation of individual viruses. Ultrastructural identification of virus particles and pathological processes in infected tissues of man and experimental animals is important in understanding the nature of arenaviral pathogenesis Such identification also contributes to our understanding of the mechanisms of viral shedding and transmission in reservoir host species
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