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Young-Min Lee

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a zoonotic flavivirus, is principally transmitted by hematophagous mosquitoes, continually between susceptible animals and incidentally from those animals to humans. For almost a century since its discovery, JEV was geographically confined to the Asia-Pacific region with recurrent sizable outbreaks involving wildlife, livestock, and people. However, over the past decade, it has been detected for the first time in Europe (Italy) and Africa (Angola) but has yet to cause any recognizable outbreaks in humans. JEV infection leads to a broad spectrum of clinical outcomes, ranging from asymptomatic conditions to self-limiting febrile illnesses to life-threatening neurological complications, particularly Japanese encephalitis (JE). No clinically proven antiviral drugs are available to treat the development and progression of JE. There are, however, several live and killed vaccines that have been commercialized to prevent the infection and transmission of JEV, yet this virus remains the main cause of acute encephalitis syndrome with high morbidity and mortality among children in the endemic regions. Therefore, significant research efforts have been directed toward understanding the neuropathogenesis of JE to facilitate the development of effective treatments for the disease. Thus far, multiple laboratory animal models have been established for the study of JEV infection. In this review, we focus on mice, the most extensively used animal model for JEV research, and summarize the major findings on mouse susceptibility, infection route, and viral pathogenesis reported in the past and present, and discuss some unanswered key questions for future studies.

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