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Research article2015Peer reviewedOpen access

Spatial and temporal variation of hantavirus bank vole infection in managed forest landscapes

Magnusson, Magnus; Ecke, Frauke; Khalil, Hussein; Olsson, Gert; Evander, Magnus; Niklasson, B; Hörnfeldt, Birger


Zoonoses are major contributors to emerging infectious diseases globally. Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) is a zoonosis caused by rodent-borne hantaviruses. In Europe, Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) carried and shed by the bank vole (Myodes glareolus), is the most common cause of HFRS. We explore the relationship of PUUV infection in bank voles, as measured by PUUV antibody detection, with habitat and landscape scale properties during two successive vole cycles in boreal Sweden. Our analysis revealed that PUUV infection in the population was not uniform between cycles and across different landscapes. The mean density index of PUUV antibody positive and negative bank voles were highest in old forest, second highest in cut-over forest (approx. 0-30 years old) and lowest on mires. Most importantly, old forest was the core habitat, where PUUV antibody positive bank voles were found through the low density phase and the transition between successive vole cycles. In spring, occurrence of antibody positive voles was negatively related to the proportion of cut-over forest in the surrounding landscape, suggesting that large scale human induced land-use change altered the occurrence of PUUV infection in voles which has not been shown before. Dependence of PUUV infection on habitat and landscape structure, and the variation in infection load within and between cycles are of importance for human risk assessment.

Published in

2015, Volume: 6, number: 9, article number: 163