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Calpox virus / marmoset model

- a new animal model for orthopox virus infections

During an outbreak of an atypical cowpox virus infection in a private monkey husbandry, a virus similar to cowpox virus was isolated and called Calpox virus. In the course of the endemic outbreak, 30 out of 80 animals died. Affected animals showed symptoms of a severe systemic infection with typical erosive-ulcerative to vesicular lesions, particularly on the oral mucous membranes and in the skin. Thus, the disease beared resemblance to variola virus infections of humans.

The newly isolated and characterized virus was used in an experimental study with New World monkeys (Callithrix jacchus). The animals were infected intranasally with different dosages of the virus and developed a well reproducible disease pattern. They fell sick after an incubation period of 12 to 14 days and died within 2 to 3 days after first clinical symptoms. Clinical symptoms after experimental infection were comparable to those of the first outbreak. Virus could be isolated from blood, saliva, and tissue samples of infected animals. Identical findings were present after intravenous application of the virus, however, an accelerated disease outbreak was observed.

Lately, pox virus infections became relevant again due to the often emotional discussion about the use of variola virus as a biological weapon in terrorist attacks or in acts of war. As the present vaccine against variola virus causes severe side-effects, the development of new vaccines and therapeutic agents seems to be absolutely essential. All in all, the Calpox Virus/marmoset model can be regarded as an excellent animal model for the validation of new vaccine candidates and therapeutic agents as well as for etiopathological studies. This could be confirmed by an already completed pathogenesis study, which was the subject of a doctoral thesis.

Relevant literature:

Dynamics of pathological and virological findings during experimental Calpox virus infection of common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)

The pathology of experimental calpox virus infection in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus): further characterization of a new primate model of orthopox virus infections



Intradermal vesicular dermatitis with evidence of characteristic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Guarnieri bodies), HE staining (source: DPZ).
Transmission electron micrograph of a Guarnieri body with mature virus particles (source: DPZ).