Junin Virus Activity in Rodents from Endemic and Nonendemic Loci in Central Argentina

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  • Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, The Salk Institute (Government Service Division), Instituto Nacional de Estudios Sobre Virosis Hemorragicas, Pergamino, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Baltimore, Maryland, Argentina
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Small mammals were trapped during a 21-month period at 27 farm sites in 15 localities within and beyond the known endemic area for Argentine hemorrhagic fever (AHF). Prevalence of Junin virus (JV) was assessed by antigen-capture enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) on samples of body fluids and/or organs from 3, 282 captured rodents. Infection in rodent populations was variable (0–3.7%) among localities but, in all cases, was lower than previously reported rates. Overall prevalence was 1.4% in the AHF epidemic area, 0.6% in the historic (currently low incidence of AHF) area, and 0.4% in two localities beyond the previously defined endemic area. These low values underestimate the actual prevalence of JV, as ELISA validation by virus isolation indicated a sensitivity of 30% and a specificity of 99%. Of 37 positive rodents, 28 (76%) were of two species: Calomys musculinus (23 animals) and C. laucha (5 animals). Antigen also was found in three Akodon azarae, four Bolomys obscurus, one Mus musculus, and one Oxymycterus rufus, and JV was isolated from two Oligoryzomys flavescens. Three of these rodent species (B. obscurus, O. flavescens, and O. rufus) have heretofore not been implicated in JV maintenance in the field. Evidence suggests that the AHF endemic area may continue to expand northward.