Prevalence of Antibodies to Arenaviruses in Rodents from the Southern and Western United States: Evidence for an Arenavirus Associated with the Genus Neotoma

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  • Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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The objectives of this study were to extend our knowledge of the geographic distribution and rodent host range of arenaviruses in North America. Sera from wild rodents collected from the southern and western United States were tested for antibody against Tamiami, Pichinde, Junin, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis viruses, using an indirect fluorescent antibody test. Antibody to at least one arenavirus was found in 220 (3.1%) of 7,106 rodents tested. The antibody-positive animals included Mus musculus from Florida and Texas; Neotoma albigula from Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico; N. fuscipes and N. lepida from California: N. mexicana from Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah; N. stephensi from Arizona and New Mexico; and Oryzomys palustris and Sigmodon hispidus from Florida. Sigmodon hispidus seropositive for Tamiami virus were found only in Florida (156 [27.0%] of 578 tested), although 463 hispid cotton rats from outside that state were examined. High-titered antibodies to Tamiami virus were present in sera from S. hispidus, (geometric mean antibody titer [GMAT] of 1:792), whereas sera from Neotoma spp. reacted at high titer to both Tamiami (GMAT = 1:905) and Pichinde (GMAT = 1:433) viruses. The results suggest that arenaviruses are widely distributed in the southern United States and that one or more indigenous arenaviruses are associated with Neotoma spp. in North America.

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