Long-term studies of hantavirus reservoir populations in the southwestern United States: rationale, potential, and methods.
Hantaviruses are rodent-borne zoonotic agents that cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome in Asia and Europe and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in North and South America. The epidemiology of human diseases caused by these viruses is tied to the ecology of the rodent hosts, and effective control and prevention relies on a through understanding of host ecology. After the 1993 HPS outbreak in the southwestern United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiated long-term studies of the temporal dynamics of hantavirus infection in host populations. These studies, which used mark-recapture techniques on 24 trapping webs at nine sites in the southwestern United States, were designed to monitor changes in reservoir population densities and in the prevalence and incidence of infection; quantify environmental factors associated with these changes; and when linked to surveillance databases for HPS, lead to predictive models of human risk to be used in the design and implementation of control and prevention measures for human hantavirus disease. (+info
Long-term hantavirus persistence in rodent populations in central Arizona.
For 35 months, we monitored hantavirus activity in rodent populations in central Arizona. The most frequently captured hantavirus antibody-positive rodents were Peromyscus boylii and P. truei. Antibody-positive P. boylii were more frequently male (84%), older, and heavier, and they survived longer on trapping web sites than antibody-negative mice. The number of antibody-positive P. boylii was greater during high population densities than during low densities, while antibody prevalence was greater during low population densities. Virus transmission and incidence rates, also related to population densities, varied by trapping site. The spatial distribution of antibody-positive P. boylii varied by population density and reflected the species preference for dense chaparral habitats. The focal ranges of antibody-positive P. boylii also demonstrated a patchy distribution of hantavirus. (+info
A longitudinal study of Sin Nombre virus prevalence in rodents, southeastern Arizona.
We determined the prevalence of Sin Nombre virus antibodies in small mammals in southeastern Arizona. Of 1,234 rodents (from 13 species) captured each month from May through December 1995, only mice in the genus Peromyscus were seropositive. Antibody prevalence was 14.3% in 21 white-footed mice (P. leucopus), 13.3% in 98 brush mice (P. boylii), 0.8% in 118 cactus mice (P. eremicus), and 0% in 2 deer mice (P. maniculatus). Most antibody-positive mice were adult male Peromyscus captured close to one another early in the study. Population dynamics of brush mice suggest a correlation between population size and hantavirus-antibody prevalence. (+info
Statistical sensitivity for detection of spatial and temporal patterns in rodent population densities.
A long-term monitoring program begun 1 year after the epidemic of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in the U.S. Southwest tracked rodent density changes through time and among sites and related these changes to hantavirus infection rates in various small-mammal reservoir species and human disease outbreaks. We assessed the statistical sensitivity of the program's field design and tested for potential biases in population estimates due to unintended deaths of rodents. Analyzing data from two sites in New Mexico from 1994 to 1998, we found that for many species of Peromyscus, Reithrodontomys, Neotoma, Dipodomys, and Perognathus, the monitoring program detected species-specific spatial and temporal differences in rodent densities; trap-related deaths did not significantly affect long-term population estimates. The program also detected a short-term increase in rodent densities in the winter of 1997-98, demonstrating its usefulness in identifying conditions conducive to increased risk for human disease. (+info
Natural history of Sin Nombre virus in western Colorado.
A mark-recapture longitudinal study of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody to Sin Nombre virus (SNV) in rodent populations in western Colorado (1994-results summarized to October 1997) indicates the presence of SNV or a closely related hantavirus at two sites. Most rodents (principally deer mice, Peromyscus maniculatus, and pinyon mice, P. truei) did not persist on the trapping webs much beyond 1 month after first capture. Some persisted more than 1 year, which suggests that even a few infected deer mice could serve as transseasonal reservoirs and mechanisms for over-winter virus maintenance. A positive association between wounds and SNV antibody in adult animals at both sites suggests that when infected rodents in certain populations fight with uninfected rodents, virus amplification occurs. At both sites, male rodents comprised a larger percentage of seropositive mice than recaptured mice, which suggests that male mice contribute more to the SNV epizootic cycle than female mice. In deer mice, IgG antibody prevalence fluctuations were positively associated with population fluctuations. The rates of seroconversion, which in deer mice at both sites occurred mostly during late summer and midwinter, were higher than the seroprevalence, which suggests that the longer deer mice live, the greater the probability they will become infected with SNV. (+info
Long-term studies of hantavirus reservoir populations in the southwestern United States: a synthesis.
A series of intensive, longitudinal, mark-recapture studies of hantavirus infection dynamics in reservoir populations in the southwestern United States indicates consistent patterns as well as important differences among sites and host-virus associations. All studies found a higher prevalence of infection in older (particularly male) mice; one study associated wounds with seropositivity. These findings are consistent with horizontal transmission and transmission through fighting between adult male rodents. Despite very low rodent densities at some sites, low-level hantavirus infection continued, perhaps because of persistent infection in a few long-lived rodents or periodic reintroduction of virus from neighboring populations. Prevalence of hantavirus antibody showed seasonal and multiyear patterns that suggested a delayed density-dependent relationship between prevalence and population density. Clear differences in population dynamics and patterns of infection among sites, sampling periods, and host species underscore the importance of replication and continuity of long-term reservoir studies. Nevertheless, the measurable associations between environmental variables, reservoir population density, rates of virus transmission, and prevalence of infection in host populations may improve our capacity to model processes influencing infection and predict increased risk for hantavirus transmission to humans. (+info
Polymerase chain reaction detection of Puumala virus RNA in formaldehyde-fixed biopsy material.
BACKGROUND: Infections with hantaviruses, mainly Clethrionomys-derived Puumala viruses, are known causes of acute renal failure [hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS)] in western Europe. Laboratory diagnosis is primarily based on serology. At the time of clinical symptoms, viral RNA can hardly be detected in the blood or urine, indicating that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is of little diagnostic value for these infections. Biopsy material is usually formaldehyde-fixed and, thus, regarded as poor quality for PCR applications. The aim of this study was to establish a technique to retrieve such material for laboratory diagnostic. METHODS: Formaldehyde-fixed, paraffin-embedded kidney biopsies of 14 patients with renal failure either clinically suspected for HFRS (7 cases) or caused by unknown (2 cases) or known other causes (drugs, sarcoidosis; 5 cases) were histologically investigated. An established S segment-specific PCR assay was applied to RNA isolated from the biopsies, and amplification products were verified by direct sequence determination. RESULTS: Investigations revealed a typical histopathological appearance for hantavirus infections in all seven suspected HFRS cases and one case of unknown cause. With five of the suspected HFRS cases, hantavirus-specific RNA was detected. Sequence comparison revealed a close relationship to corresponding nucleoproteins of known Puumala viruses. CONCLUSION: The established technique provides a simple and powerful tool that expands the diagnostic possibilities, especially for otherwise unidentified or retrospective cases. It further allows insight into the molecular epidemiology of HFRS-causing agents. (+info
Genetic evidence of Dobrava virus in Apodemus agrarius in Hungary.
Using nested polymerase chain reaction, we sequenced Dobrava virus (DOB) from the rodent Apodemus agrarius in Hungary. The samples we isolated group with DOB samples previously isolated from A. flavicollis. This grouping may indicate host switching. (+info