Hantavirus and arenavirus antibody prevalence in rodents and humans in Trentino, Northern Italy

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The spatial and temporal distribution of hantavirus and arenavirus antibody-positive wild rodents in Trentino, Italy, was studied using immunofluorescence assays (IFA) in two long-term sites trapped in 2000–2003, and six other sites trapped in 2002. The overall hantavirus seroprevalence in the bank voles, Clethrionomys glareolus (n = 229) screened for Puumala virus (PUUV) antibodies was 0.4%, and that for Apodemus flavicollis mice (n = 1416) screened for Dobrava virus (DOBV) antibodies was 0.2%. Antibodies against lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) were found in 82 (5.6%) of the 1472 tested rodents; the seroprevalence being 6.1 % in A. flavicollis (n = 1181), 3.3% in C. glareolus (n = 276), and 14.3% in Microtus arvalis (n = 7). Of the serum samples of 488 forestry workers studied by IFA, 12 were LCMV-IgG positive (2.5%) and one DOBV-IgG positive (0.2%), however, the latter could not be confirmed DOBV-specific with a neutralization assay. Our results show a widespread distribution but low prevalence of DOBV in Trentino, and demonstrate that the arenavirus antibodies are a common finding in several other rodent species besides the house mouse.

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