Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

The prevalence of rodent-borne zoonotic pathogens in the South Gobi desert region of Mongolia

Esson, Carol; Samelius, Gustaf; Strand, Tanja M.; et al.


The alpine ecosystems and communities of central Asia are currently undergoing large-scale ecological and socio-ecological changes likely to affect wildlife-livestock-human disease interactions and zoonosis transmission risk. However, relatively little is known about the prevalence of pathogens in this region. Between 2012 and 2015 we screened 142 rodents in Mongolia’s Gobi desert for exposure to important zoonotic and livestock pathogens. Rodent seroprevalence to Leptospira spp. was >1/3 of tested animals, Toxoplasma gondii and Coxiella burnetii approximately 1/8 animals, and the hantaviruses being between 1/20 (Puumala-like hantavirus) and <1/100 (Seoul-like hantavirus). Gerbils trapped inside local dwellings were one of the species seropositive to Puumala-like hantavirus, suggesting a potential zoonotic transmission pathway. Seventeen genera of zoonotic bacteria were also detected in the faeces and ticks collected from these rodents, with one tick testing positive to Yersinia. Our study helps provide baseline patterns of disease prevalence needed to infer potential transmission between source and target populations in this region, and to help shift the focus of epidemiological research towards understanding disease transmission among species and proactive disease mitigation strategies within a broader One Health framework.


Rodent; zoonoses; leptospira; hantavirus; haematology; Mongolia

Published in

Infection Ecology & Epidemiology
2023, Volume: 13, number: 1, article number: 2270258

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)