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Expansion of spatial and host range of Puumala virus in Sweden: an increasing threat for humans?

  • O. BORG (a1), M. WILLE (a1), P. KJELLANDER (a2), U. A. BERGVALL (a2) (a3), P.-E. LINDGREN (a4) (a5), J. CHIRICO (a6) and Å. LUNDKVIST (a1) (a7)...

Hantaviruses are globally distributed and cause severe human disease. Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) is the most common species in Northern Europe, and the only hantavirus confirmed to circulate in Sweden, restricted to the northern regions of the country. In this study, we aimed to further add to the natural ecology of PUUV in Sweden by investigating prevalence, and spatial and host species infection patterns. Specifically, we wanted to ascertain whether PUUV was present in the natural reservoir, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus) further south than Dalälven river, in south-central Sweden, and whether PUUV can be detected in other rodent species in addition to the natural reservoir. In total, 559 animals were collected at Grimsö (59°43′N; 15°28′E), Sala (59°55′N; 16°36′E) and Bogesund (59°24′N; 18°14′E) in south-central Sweden between May 2013 and November 2014. PUUV ELISA-reactive antibodies were found both in 2013 (22/295) and in 2014 (18/264), and nine samples were confirmed as PUUV-specific by focus reduction neutralization test. Most of the PUUV-specific samples were from the natural host, the bank vole, but also from other rodent hosts, indicating viral spill-over. Finally, we showed that PUUV is present in more highly populated central Sweden.

Corresponding author
*Authors for correspondence: Å. Lundkvist and M. Wille, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Zoonosis Science Center, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. (Email: Å and
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Epidemiology & Infection
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