Theiler, M. The arthropod-borne viruses of vertebrates


Theiler, M. The arthropod-borne viruses of vertebrates



Max Theiler, Wilbur G. Downs. The arthropod-borne viruses of vertebrates: an account of the Rockefeller Foundation Virus Program, 1951-1970

This volume marks a second major milestone in more than 50 years of productive research by staff members of the Rockefeller Foundation in the field of virology. The first milestone, in 1951, was the publication of STROBE'S Yellow Fever, a detailed account of the isolation of the virus, the development of laboratory procedures for handling it, culminating in the development of a safe and highly effective live, attenuated vaccine, the 17D vaccine, a product still unsurpassed among all virus vaccines for use in man. At first, it seemed as if control of yellow fever could be achieved simply by vaccinating those at risk, but field experience showed that yellow fever virus circulated invertebrate hosts other than man, and this discovery revealed an open-ended problem of enormous complexity. It is now known that the yellow fever virus is merely one among some 300 different viruses that share the property of infecting both vertebrate and invertebrate hosts and which are transmitted to vertebrates by blood-sucking insects in the tissues of which they multiply. The arthropod-borne viruses of vertebrates is a monumental study of this problem by two masters, Max Theiler, who received a Nobel Prize in 1951 for his work on 17D vaccine, and who died shortly before the book was published, and W. G. DOWNS, a former Associate Director of the Rockefeller Foundation and former head of the Yale Arbovirus Laboratory.

The book is divided into three parts. In part I, methods used in handling arboviruses are dealt with, and the interpretation of the results of serological tests is discussed. The mouse protection test, which formed the basis of much early work, is cumbersome and can give different results depending upon several variables. The haemagglutination-inhibition (HAI) test is simpler to perform, but the interpretation of the results of HAI tests is not always easy. The cross-reactions demonstrated by HAI tests lead to the concept of antigen " groups ", which form the basis by which arboviruses are classified, and this field is well covered in Part II of the book. There is a useful historical account of the evolution of arbovirus groups, with separate chapters for each of the major groups. These include a chapter on the Tacaribe group viruses, although present views classify these as arenaviruses and exclude them from the arthropod-borne viruses.

Part III is headed "Certain specific problems ", and covers geographical distribution, the arthropod hosts and the vertebrate hosts, with the special case of a man considered in relation to the 101 distinct arthropod-borne viruses which can cause infections in man. The book ends with an alphabetically arranged list of named arboviruses, giving cross-references to the Catalogue of Arthropod-borne Viruses of the World (1967) and its 1970 Supplement, and indicating the relevant group of each virus. This Appendix alone would make the book a valuable key to the complexities of the arboviruses. No less than 92 tables are included within the text, covering such points as the zoogeographic distribution of arthropod-borne viruses, viruses isolated from Rodentia, from ticks, from Chiroptera, and many other facts never previously assembled together. Although the balance of the material is heavily weighted towards the arboviruses of the Nearctic and Neotropical regions, sufficient mention is made of arboviruses from other regions to justify the title. The book is likely to prove indispensable to any laboratory dealing with these viruses. --J. S. Porterfield



Publication Date



Yale University Press


New Haven


virus diseases, arboviruses


The Rockefeller University Library 2nd Floor QW 168.5 A7 T376 1973

The Rockefeller University Library President's Office OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

Theiler, M. The arthropod-borne viruses of vertebrates