What Is Tacaribe Virus

  • Elena PaspelMaster of Science in Engineering (Digital Health) - Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia

The Tacaribe Virus is a New World arenavirus that's been grabbing the attention of scientists for its unique traits. Unlike many viruses that are harmful to humans, Tacaribe is relatively benign and serves as a valuable tool for researchers who are studying more dangerous viruses. It has been found in a variety of hosts like fruit bats, mosquitoes, and ticks but hasn't been linked to any human diseases. It's essentially the "guinea pig" of the virus world, helping us understand its more harmful relatives.

This article provides an overview of the Tacaribe Virus's history, its role in scientific research, and some recent discoveries. Keep reading to uncover the full story behind this intriguing virus.


The Tacaribe Virus is a fascinating subject that has piqued the curiosity of scientists and researchers alike. Classified as a New World arenavirus, has some unique features that set it apart. Most viruses are known as their related diseases, but the Tacaribe Virus is an exception as it doesn't cause severe illnesses in humans, unlike some other members of the arenavirus family. Instead, it is an excellent candidate for scientific research, particularly as a model to study other, more dangerous arenaviruses.1,2

In simpler terms, think of the Tacaribe Virus as the "guinea pig" of the virus world, helping scientists understand more harmful relatives.4 The Tacaribe virus is a valuable tool in research, especially as a biosafety level 2 (BSL-2)  system, which is a fancy way of saying it's safe enough for researchers to study without extreme precautions.1 This virus is crucial for understanding how other, more dangerous arenaviruses operate. Tacaribe virus has not been linked to any human diseases but has been found in various other organisms, including fruit bats, mosquitos and ticks. Interestingly, it's even shown promise as a potential vaccine for more severe conditions like Argentine hemorrhagic fever.2

Historical context

While the Tacaribe Virus may not be a household name, it has been known to the scientific community for quite some time. Interest in the Tacaribe virus is on the rise, not in the form of an outbreak, but as a hot topic in research circles. It turns out that the Tacaribe Virus has some intriguing connections to other viruses in the arenavirus family, such as Junin and Machupo viruses.5 These viruses are notorious for causing severe illnesses, and understanding Tacaribe better could provide valuable insights into how its more dangerous relatives operate.2

The Tacaribe Virus was first discovered in Trinidad during a program that was looking for rabies in bats. It was like finding a hidden treasure while on a different quest.1 And it wasn't just bats; the virus was also found in mosquitoes in Trinidad, adding another layer to its already intriguing backstory.2

So, in a way, the Tacaribe Virus is like an old book that's been pulled off the shelf, dusted off, and is now being re-read with a fresh set of eyes. This renewed interest could lead to significant breakthroughs in viral research.2

Taxonomy and classification

All organisms are categorised into different groups based on their genetic similarity.. This helps researchers understand how organisms are related and how they might behave.

The Tacaribe Virus is part of the Arenaviridae family. The Arenaviridae family is a large group of unique viruses that have a degree of similarity.4

Within each family, there are several genera. A genus is a more specific grouping, sort of like your immediate family. The Tacaribe Virus is a part of the Arenavirus genus, which also includes more well-known viruses such as the Junin and Machupo viruses.6 They're all part of the same "inner circle," but each has its own quirks and characteristics.

Characteristics of tacaribe virus

Now, here's where it gets intriguing. Unlike some of its more notorious relatives, the Tacaribe Virus doesn't seem to cause severe diseases in humans. It's like that one family member who's surprisingly well-behaved compared to their rowdier siblings. This makes it a valuable subject for research, especially for understanding what makes other arenaviruses tick.4

Transmission and reservoirs

When it comes to viruses, the term "reservoir" refers to the natural home (typically a host organism) where the virus lives when it's not infecting other organisms. Think of it as the virus's "home base". The Tacaribe Virus has been discovered in a variety of hosts, including fruit bats, mosquitoes, and ticks.2

Geographic regions at risk

As for where in the world you're most likely to encounter the Tacaribe Virus, that's another area where research is ongoing. The virus is mostly found in North and South America but can be found in various hosts worldwide.7 And while researchers are still trying to pinpoint exactly where this virus is most prevalent, the fact that it's been found in such diverse hosts suggests that it could potentially be more widespread than initially thought.2

Role as a BSL2 system

First, the Tacaribe Virus is classified as a BSL-2 system.1 This means it's not a high-risk virus for humans or lab animals. Because it's relatively safe to work with, researchers can use it to practice and refine their techniques before moving on to more hazardous viruses.

Comparative pathogenesis studies

Another reason the Tacaribe Virus is a hot topic in research is its use in comparative pathogenesis studies. "Pathogenesis" is a word for understanding how diseases develop and spread. By studying the Tacaribe Virus, scientists can gain insights into how other, more dangerous Arenaviruses behave. It's like studying a harmless garden snake to understand how a venomous cobra might act.

Recent findings

Scientific research has its own version of plot twists, and the Tacaribe Virus is no exception. Here's what's new and exciting.

Genome sequencing

First up genome sequencing. Imagine having a map that shows you every nook and cranny of a city. That's what genome sequencing does for viruses; it gives scientists a detailed map of the virus's genetic material. While complete genome sequencing for the Tacaribe Virus is still in the works, preliminary studies are promising. This could be a game-changer in understanding not just Tacaribe but other arenaviruses as well.

Isolation from ticks in florida

The Tacaribe Virus was recently found in ticks in Florida that were actively looking for hosts. Specifically, the virus was detected in lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum), which are commonly found in the southeastern United States.3


If the Tacaribe Virus were a movie, it would be a thriller with plot twists, intriguing characters, and a storyline that keeps you guessing.

The Tacaribe Virus is a New World arenavirus that's like the quiet, mysterious character in a movie. It doesn't cause severe diseases in humans but has a lot to teach us about its more dangerous relatives.4

  • Family Ties: It's part of the Arenaviridae family and the Arenavirus genus.4
  • Role in Research: This virus is the unsung hero in the lab, helping scientists practise and refine their techniques. It's like the training wheels for studying more dangerous viruses.
  • Recent Scoop: From genome sequencing to being found in ticks in Florida, the Tacaribe Virus is full of surprises.3
  • Implications for Public Health and Research: While the Tacaribe Virus may not be a direct threat to public health, it's a goldmine for scientific research. Understanding this virus can give us valuable insights into other, more dangerous viruses. It's like studying the playbook of a junior varsity team to prepare for the varsity game.4


  1. Holzerland J, Leske A, Fénéant L, Garcin D, Kolakofsky D, Groseth A. Complete genome sequence of Tacaribe virus. Arch Virol. 2020 Aug;165(8):1899–903. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7351806/
  2. Ye C, de la Torre JC, Martínez-Sobrido L. Development of reverse genetics for the prototype new world mammarena virus tacaribe virus. J Virol. 2020 Sep 15;94(19):e01014-20. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7495372/
  3. Sayler KA, Barbet AF, Chamberlain C, Clapp WL, Alleman R, Loeb JC, et al. Isolation of Tacaribe virus, a Caribbean arenavirus, from host-seeking Amblyomma americanum ticks in Florida. PLoS One. 2014;9(12):e115769. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0115769
  4. Speshock JL, Murdock RC, Braydich-Stolle LK, Schrand AM, Hussain SM. Interaction of silver nanoparticles with Tacaribe virus. J Nanobiotechnology [Internet]. 2010 Aug 18 [cited 2023 Sep 6];8:19. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2936366/
  5. Sarute, Nicolás, and Susan R. Ross. ‘New World Arenavirus Biology’. Annual Review of Virology, vol. 4, no. 1, Sept. 2017, pp. 141–58. DOI.org (Crossref), Available at: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-virology-101416-042001.
  6. Charrel, Rémi N., et al. ‘Phylogeny of the Genus Arenavirus’. Current Opinion in Microbiology, vol. 11, no. 4, Aug. 2008, pp. 362–68. DOI.org (Crossref), Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mib.2008.06.001.
  7. Sayler, Katherine A., et al. ‘Isolation of Tacaribe Virus, a Caribbean Arenavirus, from Host-Seeking Amblyomma Americanum Ticks in Florida’. PLoS ONE, edited by Jens H. Kuhn, vol. 9, no. 12, Dec. 2014, p. e115769. DOI.org (Crossref), Available from: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0115769.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Elena Paspel

Master of Science in Engineering (Digital Health) - Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia

Bachelor of Laws - LLB (Hons), London Metropolitan University, UK

An experienced professional with a diverse background spanning law, pricing, and eHealth/Digital Health. Proficient in copywriting, medical terminology, healthcare interoperability standards, and MedTech regulations. A strong foundation in scientific research methodologies and user experience research supports the creation of compelling content for the biopharmaceutical, CROs, medical technology, and eHealth sectors.

Proven expertise in driving product vision, synthesizing complex information, and delivering user-centric solutions. Adept at streamlining workflows and processes, and drafting documentation and SOPs. Always open to collaborations and eager to connect with like-minded professionals.

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