Antibody to sin nombre virus in rodents associated with peridomestic habitats in west central Montana.

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  • 1 Department of Biology, Montana Tech of the University of Montana, Butte 59701, USA.

Most human cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome are acquired in the peridomestic environment, yet studies of the ecology and infection dynamics in the reservoir host, the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), have focused on sylvan populations. We describe a 2.5-year study of hantavirus infection in rodents associated with peridomestic habitats in west central Montana. Antibodies reactive with Sin Nombre virus (SNV) were found in five species. Overall SNV antibody prevalence was highest among deer mice (25% of individuals tested). As has been demonstrated for sylvan populations, the antibody-positive component of the deer mouse population consisted of a higher proportion of adults and males. However, the prevalence of antibodies to SNV was higher in this study than has been reported in most sylvan studies. The average monthly proportion of deer mouse blood samples with antibodies to SNV ranged from approximately 20% to 25% and was highest in the late spring/early summer. The higher SNV antibody prevalence in peridomestic compared with sylvan settings may be related to behavioral differences and/or potentially longer survival of the virus deposited inside buildings. Peridomestic settings presented higher concentrations of virus and may present a higher risk of human infection than do sylvan settings.