Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) was first isolated in 1933 from a patient suspected to have St. Louis Encephalitis.
It is a single-stranded RNA virus that belongs to the family Arenaviridae (so named because of their appearance on electron microscopy, which, owing to host ribosomes, resemble grains of sand).
Other members of the Arenaviridae family include the Lassa virus (LASV) and the New World complex viruses (Junin, Machupo, Guanarito, Sabia). Infection with LCMV results in a febrile, self-limited, biphasic disease that is often complicated by aseptic meningitis. Infected but asymptomatic (carrier state) rodents, most commonly mice (Mus domesticus, Mus musculus), hamsters, and Guinea pigs, serve as reservoirs for LCMV.
LCMV is most commonly transmitted via inhalation of infected excreta. Direct contact and animal bites are a potential route of LCMV infection in pet handlers and laboratory technicians.