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Arenaviruses Medication

  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
Updated: Oct 05, 2015

Medication Summary

The goals of pharmacotherapy are to reduce morbidity and to prevent complications.[5]



Class Summary

Clinical experience with ribavirin in the treatment of Arenavirus infections is primarily with Lassa fever, but anecdotal experience in the South American arenaviruses also exists.

One study demonstrated a reduction in mortality from 55% to 5% in severe Lassa fever with intravenous ribavirin when administered within the first 6 days. Oral ribavirin may also be effective, although it has less bioavailability compared with intravenous formulations. Oral ribavirin is also sometimes used as postexposure prophylaxis, although data are limited.

Ribavirin (Virazole)


Synthetic guanosine analog (1beta-D-ribofuranosyl- 1H-1,2,4-triazole-3-carboxamide) that inhibits viral replication by inhibiting DNA and RNA synthesis.

Phosphorylated in vivo, and the active form may interfere with viral genomic synthesis. Clinically used in combination with interferon for hepatitis C, as aerosol for respiratory syncytial virus, and as potential prophylaxis and/or treatment of Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever, hantavirus infections, and Arenavirus hemorrhagic fevers. In vitro evidence exists for activity against West Nile virus. IV form not readily available and the manufacturer should be contacted if the need arises.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine, University of South Florida College of Medicine; Chief, Infectious Diseases Section, Director, Occupational Health and Infection Control Programs, James A Haley Veterans Hospital

Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Kevin M Smith, MD Fellow in Infectious Disease and International Medicine, University of South Florida College of Medicine

Kevin M Smith, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Ulyee Choe, DO Fellow, Department of Infectious Diseases, University of South Florida College of Medicine

Ulyee Choe, DO is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Joseph F John, Jr, MD, FACP, FIDSA, FSHEA Clinical Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine; Associate Chief of Staff for Education, Ralph H Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Joseph F John, Jr, MD, FACP, FIDSA, FSHEA is a member of the following medical societies: Charleston County Medical Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America, South Carolina Infectious Diseases Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD Professor, Chief of Infectious Disease, Program Director of Infectious Disease Fellowship, Department of Internal Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine

Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society for Microbiology, International Immunocompromised Host Society, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Daniel R Lucey, MD, MPH, MD, MPH 

Daniel R Lucey, MD, MPH, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous author Larry I Lutwick, MD, to the development and writing of this article.

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