Hantavirus has been isolated in cell culture from rat immunocytomas used and stored at a research laboratory in the U.K. where there was evidence of a laboratory-acquired infection leading to haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. Both transplantation into LOU/M/Wsl rats and storage of passaged immunocytomas at -70°C over a period of 8-10 years had not eliminated the virus. The isolates were identified as Hantavirus by means of serum obtained from patients with hantavirus infection as well as polyclonal serum derived from laboratory animals. This paper identifies a potential source of hantavirus infection in laboratories. The importing of rats, rat immunocytomas and anti-immunocytoma serum in relation to the potential risks of laboratory acquired hantavirus infection is discussed.
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