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Temporal Dynamics of Two Pathogenic Hantaviruses Among Rodents in Hungary

Madai, Mónika, Németh, Viktória, Oldal, Miklós, Horváth, Győző, Herczeg, Róbert, Kelemen, Krisztina, Kemenesi, Gábor, Jakab, Ferenc
Vector borne and zoonotic diseases 2020 v.20 no.3 pp. 212-221
Apodemus agrarius, Apodemus flavicollis, Apodemus sylvaticus, Chiroptera, Clethrionomys glareolus, Myodes, Puumala orthohantavirus, antibodies, blood serum, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, females, forest reserves, forests, hosts, humans, immunoglobulin G, males, mountains, nucleocapsid proteins, overwintering, pathogens, population density, risk, seroconversion, seroprevalence, surveys, temporal variation, voles, Hungary
Hantaviruses are worldwide pathogens, which often cause serious or even fatal diseases in humans. Hosts are predominantly in the form of rodents and soricomorphs; however, bats are also described as an important reservoir. In Hungary, representatives of two human pathogenic species of the genus Orthohantavirus are present: the Dobrava-Belgrade orthohantavirus and Puumala orthohantavirus. In Hungarian forests, the dominant rodent species are Apodemus flavicollis, Apodemus agrarius, Apodemus sylvaticus, and Myodes glareolus, all of which are natural reservoirs comprising different hantaviruses. The aim of the study was to survey the prevalence of hantaviruses among rodent populations and examine the potential relationship regarding population densities, years, sex, and seroprevalence. Rodents were trapped at 13 sampling plots in a forest reserve located in the Mecsek Mountain range, Hungary, from March to October between 2011 and 2014. Rodent serum samples were tested for IgG antibodies against Dobrava-Belgrade virus and Puumala virus by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using a recombinant nucleocapsid protein. During the 4-year sampling period, 2491 specimens were tested and 254 (10.2%) proved seropositive for orthohantaviruses. In 2011, the seroprevalence among Apodemus spp. and M. glareolus was 17.2% (114/661) and 3.9% (3/77), respectively, although this rate had reversed itself in 2014. Seropositivity was substantiated in 18.4% (12/65) of Myodes voles, while only 3.6% (13/359) of the tested Apodemus rodents were found to be IgG positive. Seroconversion was observed in 58 cases, while seroreversion was only detected in 3 individual cases. A significant difference among the number of infected males and females was identified in the first 2 years of our study. Winter survival with respect to rodents was not negatively affected due to the hantavirus infection. Hantavirus seroprevalence was not directly influenced by host abundance. Consequently, we assume that high rodent density alone does not lead to an increased risk of hantavirus infection among the rodent host population.