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The muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) as a new reservoir for puumala-like hantavirus strains in Europe.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Virus Research
0168-1702
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
57
Issue
2
Pages
139–150
Identifiers
PMID: 9870582
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

We have used an indirect immunofluorescent assay (IFA) and reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) to screen the sera and tissues of muskrats (Ondatra zibethica) caught in the northwest of Brandenburg and in the northeast of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, for hantavirus infection. Kidney and/or lung tissue from 6 (3.1%, CI = 1.1-6.5%) out of 197 muskrats were found to be positive for genomic sequences of hantavirus by RT-PCR. We could also demonstrate that 14 (5%, CI = 2.9-8.7%) out of 266 muskrat's sera available for testing contained hantavirus-specific antibodies in IFA. Thus, a total of 8% of the investigated muskrat population was found to be positive for hantavirus infection by RT-PCR and IFA. None of the animals was found positive in both tests. Further analysis of the RT-PCR amplified fragments by genomic sequencing revealed sequences mostly related to the puumala (PUU) S segment sequence of the Hällnäs B1 hantavirus strain (97-99% similarity). Our data therefore demonstrate that Ondatra zibethicus serves as an additional reservoir for puumala-like hantavirus strains in Europe. The epidemiological implications of this finding for hantavirus infection in Europe and elsewhere are discussed.

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