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Old World Hantaviruses in Rodents in New Orleans, Louisiana

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  • Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana; New Orleans Termite, Mosquito, and Rodent Control Board, New Orleans, Louisiana; Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Hamilton, Montana

Seoul virus, an Old World hantavirus, is maintained in brown rats and causes a mild form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in humans. We captured rodents in New Orleans, Louisiana and tested them for the presence of Old World hantaviruses by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) with sequencing, cell culture, and electron microscopy; 6 (3.4%) of 178 rodents captured—all brown rats—were positive for a Seoul virus variant previously coined Tchoupitoulas virus, which was noted in rodents in New Orleans in the 1980s. The finding of Tchoupitoulas virus in New Orleans over 25 years since its first discovery suggests stable endemicity in the city. Although the degree to which this virus causes human infection and disease remains unknown, repeated demonstration of Seoul virus in rodent populations, recent cases of laboratory-confirmed HFRS in some US cities, and a possible link with hypertensive renal disease warrant additional investigation in both rodents and humans.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Robert W. Cross, Galveston National Laboratory, Room 5.324, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Mail Route: 10610, Galveston, TX 77555-0610. E-mail: rwcross@utmb.edu

Financial support: Funding for this research was provided by a Tulane University Research Enhancement grant.

Authors' addresses: Robert W. Cross, Bradley Waffa, Lina M. Moses, Andrew Bennett, Thomas G. Voss, and Daniel G. Bausch, Health Science Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, E-mails: rwcross@utmb.edu, bjwaffa@ncsu.edu, linammoses@gmail.com, Andrew.j.bennett@gmail.com, thomas.voss@sri.com, and dbausch@tulane.edu. Ashley Freeman and Claudia Riegel, New Orleans Mosquito, Termite, and Rodent Control Board, New Orleans, LA, E-mails: Anfree1005@yahoo.com and criegel@cityofno.com. David Safronetz, Elizabeth R. Fischer, and Heinz Feldmann, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Hamilton, MT, E-mails: safronetzd@niaid.nih.gov, efischer@niaid.nih.gov, and feldmannh@niaid.nih.gov.

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