Epidemiology and Infection



A new Puumala hantavirus subtype in rodents associated with an outbreak of Nephropathia epidemica in South-East Germany in 2004


S. ESSBAUER a1c1, J. SCHMIDT a2a3, F. J. CONRATHS a2, R. FRIEDRICH a2, J. KOCH a4, W. HAUTMANN a5, M. PFEFFER a1, R. WÖLFEL a1, J. FINKE a1, G. DOBLER a1 and R. ULRICH a2
a1 Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology, Munich, Germany
a2 Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Wusterhausen, Germany
a3 Institute of Virology, Charité, Campus Mitte, Berlin, Germany
a4 Robert Koch-Institut, Berlin, Germany
a5 Bayerisches Landesamt für Gesundheit und Lebensmittelsicherheit, Oberschleißheim, Germany

Article author query
essbauer s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
schmidt j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
conraths fj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
friedrich r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
koch j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
hautmann w   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
pfeffer m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
wolfel r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
finke j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
dobler g   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ulrich r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

A micro-epidemic of hantavirus infections occurred in Lower Bavaria, South-East Germany, starting in April 2004. While only three cases were registered from 2001 to 2003, a dramatically increased number of clinically apparent human hantavirus infections (n=38) was observed in 2004, plus seven additional cases by June 2005. To determine the reservoir responsible for the infections, a total of 43 rodents were trapped in Lower Bavaria. Serological and genetic investigations revealed that Puumala virus (PUUV) is dominant in the local population of bank voles. Partial PUUV S segment nucleotide sequences originating from bank voles at four different trapping sites in Lower Bavaria showed a low divergence (up to 3·1%). This is contrasted by a nucleotide sequence divergence of 14–16% to PUUV strains detected in Belgium, France, Slovakia or North-Western Germany. PUUV sequences from bank voles in Lower Bavaria represent a new PUUV subtype which seems to be responsible for the observed increase of human hantavirus infections in 2004–2005.

(Accepted January 14 2006)
(Published Online May 2 2006)


Correspondence:
c1 Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology, Neuherbergstr. 11, D-80937 Munich, Germany. (Email: SandraEssbauer@Bundeswehr.org)


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