Human-Rodent Contact and Infection with Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis and Seoul Viruses in an Inner-City Population

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  • Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, The Salk Institute (Government Service Division), Baltimore, Maryland

We collected 1180 sera and 1363 questionnaires with information on demography, rodent exposure, and history of travel from persons visiting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic in Baltimore between 1986–1988. Serological tests for two rodent-borne viruses detected antibodies to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) in 54 individuals (4.70%; n=1149)and antibodies to Seoul virus (SEOV) in three persons (0.25%; n=1180). Antibody prevalence to LCMV increased with age, but there were no racial or sexual differences. Neutralization tests and questionnaire responses implicated a domestic, rat-borne hantavirus as the source of SEOV antibody. Self-reported humanrodent contact indicated more exposure to house mice than rats within residences, although rats were more commonly sighted on streets. Infections with rodent-borne viruses were rare compared to the high rates of reported contact.