High prevalence of Nova hantavirus infection in the European mole (Talpa europaea) in France

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Abstract

SUMMARY

Recent discovery of genetically distinct hantaviruses in shrews and moles (order Soricomorpha, family Soricidae and Talpidae) has challenged the conventional view that rodents serve as the principal reservoir hosts. Nova virus (NVAV), previously identified in archival liver tissue of a single European mole (Talpa europaea) from Hungary, represents one of the most highly divergent hantaviruses identified to date. To ascertain the spatial distribution and genetic diversity of NVAV, we employed RT–PCR to analyse lungs from 94 moles, captured in two locations in France, during October 2012 to March 2013. NVAV was detected in more than 60% of moles at each location, suggesting efficient enzootic virus transmission and confirming that this mole species serves as the reservoir host. Although the pathogenic potential of NVAV is unknown, the widespread geographical distribution of the European mole might pose a hantavirus exposure risk for humans.

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