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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2014

The Importance of Bank Vole Density and Rainy Winters in Predicting Nephropathia Epidemica Incidence in Northern Sweden

Khalil, Hussein; Olsson, Gert; Ecke, Frauke; Evander, Magnus; Hjertqvist, Marika; Magnusson, Magnus; Ottosson Löfvenius, Mikaell; Hörnfeldt, Birger


Pathogenic hantaviruses (family Bunyaviridae, genus Hantavirus) are rodent-borne viruses causing hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Eurasia. In Europe, there are more than 10,000 yearly cases of nephropathia epidemica (NE), a mild form of HFRS caused by Puumala virus (PUUV). The common and widely distributed bank vole (Myodes glareolus) is the host of PUUV. In this study, we aim to explain and predict NE incidence in boreal Sweden using bank vole densities. We tested whether the number of rainy days in winter contributed to variation in NE incidence. We forecast NE incidence in July 2013-June 2014 using projected autumn vole density, and then considering two climatic scenarios: 1) rain-free winter and 2) winter with many rainy days. Autumn vole density was a strong explanatory variable of NE incidence in boreal Sweden in 1990-2012 (R-2 = 79%, p < 0.001). Adding the number of rainy winter days improved the model (R-2 = 84%, p < 0.05). We report for the first time that risk of NE is higher in winters with many rainy days. Rain on snow and ground icing may block vole access to subnivean space. Seeking refuge from adverse conditions and shelter from predators, voles may infest buildings, increasing infection risk. In a rainy winter scenario, we predicted 812 NE cases in boreal Sweden, triple the number of cases predicted in a rain-free winter in 2013/2014. Our model enables identification of high risk years when preparedness in the public health sector is crucial, as a rainy winter would accentuate risk.

Publicerad i

2014, Volym: 9, nummer: 11, artikelnummer: e111663
Utgivare: Public Library of Science