Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Seewis hantavirus in common shrew (Sorex araneus) in Sweden

Lwande, Olivia Wesula; Mohamed, Nahla; Bucht, Goran; Ahlm, Clas; Olsson, Gert; Evander, Magnus


Background Rodent borne hantaviruses are emerging viruses infecting humans through inhalation. They cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome and hemorrhagic cardiopulmonary syndrome. Recently, hantaviruses have been detected in other small mammals such as Soricomorpha (shrews, moles) and Chiroptera (bats), suggested as reservoirs for potential pandemic viruses and to play a role in the evolution of hantaviruses. It is important to study the global virome in different reservoirs, therefore our aim was to investigate whether shrews in Sweden carried any hantaviruses. Moreover, to accurately determine the host species, we developed a molecular method for identification of shrews. Method Shrews (n = 198), caught during 1998 in Sweden, were screened with a pan-hantavirus PCR using primers from a conserved region of the large genome segment. In addition to morphological typing of shrews, we developed a molecular based typing method using sequencing of the mitochondrial cytochrome C oxidase I (COI) and cytochrome B (CytB) genes. PCR amplified hantavirus and shrew fragments were sequenced and phylogenetically analysed. Results Hantavirus RNA was detected in three shrews. Sequencing identified the virus as Seewis hantavirus (SWSV), most closely related to previous isolates from Finland and Russia. All three SWSV sequences were retrieved from common shrews (Sorex araneus) sampled in Vasterbotten County, Sweden. The genetic assay for shrew identification was able to identify native Swedish shrew species, and the genetic typing of the Swedish common shrews revealed that they were most similar to common shrews from Russia. Conclusion We detected SWSV RNA in Swedish common shrew samples and developed a genetic assay for shrew identification based on the COI and CytB genes. This was the first report of presence of hantavirus in Swedish shrews.


Hantavirus; Shrew; Seewis virus; Cytochrome C oxidase I gene; Cytochrome B gene; Molecular barcoding

Published in

Virology Journal
2020, Volume: 17, number: 1, article number: 198
Publisher: BMC

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Evolutionary Biology

    Publication Identifiers


    Permanent link to this page (URI)