Tanapox and Yaba viruses have the same host range and are similar in size, shape and ultrastructure. However, the lesions produced by the two viruses differ markedly both in gross and histological appearance. Yaba lesions in either monkey or man are proliferative and involve mesodermal cells while Tanapox virus affects almost exclusively the epidermis. In tissue culture both viruses grow only in cells of human or primate origin, but while Yaba virus in BSC-1 cells produces small heaped up tumour-like masses, Tanapox virus induces intense granularity and degeneration of the infected cells. Nuclear vacuolation which is a feature of Tanapox infection has not been observed in Yaba lesions.

Monkeys recovered from infection with either virus show partial immunity to the other; further immunizing injections of virus may lead to complete resistance to challenge with large doses of the heterologous virus. Serological comparison of the viruses by complement fixation, precipitation and neutralization tests using antisera prepared in monkeys shows some degree of cross reactivity. Tests with absorbed immune sera suggest that each virus possesses, in addition to a common antigen, an antigen specific to itself; antibody to a specific antigen can also be demonstrated by neutralization tests.


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