High Prevalence of Hantavirus Antibodies in Bank Voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) Captured in the Vicinity of Households Afflicted with Nephropathia Epidemica

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  • Departments of Infectious Diseases and Virology, Umea University, Department of Animal Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Infectious Diseases, Samara State Medical University, Umea, Sweden

Puumala virus, the causative agent of nephropathia epidemica (NE), occurs endemically in Europe and is spread mainly by the bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus). In the vicinity of each of four households afflicted with NE, we studied rodents with regard to population density and prevalence of Puumala virus-specific antibodies. For each case area, a control area was randomly selected 10 km away, without regard to the presence of human settlement. During 6,000 trap nights, 328 rodents were caught, of which 299 were C. glareolus. The mean rodent densities of case and control areas were 6.6 and 3.7 animals per 100 trap nights (P < 0.001). The prevalence of serum antibodies was 15.9% in case areas compared with 5.6% in control areas (P < 0.05). In three of the case areas, where NE had occurred 3–10 weeks before trapping, the rodent density and seroprevalence were much higher than in the fourth area, where NE occurred 38 weeks before trapping. In conclusion, C. glareolus seropositive for Puumala virus occurred more frequently near households afflicted with NE than in control areas 10 km away.