Patterns of Association with Host and Habitat: Antibody Reactive with Sin Nombre Virus in Small Mammals in the Major Biotic Communities of the Southwestern United States

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  • Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Service, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Disease Section, Arizona Department of Health Services, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Bureau of Epidemiology, Utah Department of Health, Atlanta, Georgia

The distribution and prevalence of antibody reactive with Sin Nombre virus were determined in mammals in biotic communities of the southwestern United States. Small mammals (n = 3,069) of 69 species were trapped in nine communities from lower Sonoran desert to alpine tundra. Antibody was found in rodents from all communities (overall prevalence = 6.3%); prevalence was lowest at the altitudinal and climatic extremes (0.4% in desert and 2.0% in alpine tundra). Antibody occurred in 11% of 928 deer mice, 20% of 355 brush mice, 23% of 35 western harvest mice, and 12% of 24 Mexican voles. No infected deer mice were found in desert habitat; prevalence varied from 4% in chaparral to 17% in pinyon-juniper. Brush mice were frequently infected in chaparral and montane forest (25%). Seropositivity was higher in males and in heavier animals, suggesting horizontal transmission among adult males. Decreasing prevalence with age among the youngest deer mice suggests that infected dams confer passive immunity to pups.