Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases 1994;169:1271-80


An outbreak of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome(H PS) in the southwestern United States was etiologically linked to a newly recognized hantavirus. Knowledge that hantaviruses are maintained in rodent reservoirs stimulated a field and laboratory investigation of 1696 small mammals of 31 species. The most commonly captured rodent, the deer mouse( Peromyscus maniculatus), had the highest antibody prevalence(3 %)to four hantavirus antigens. Antibody also was detected in 10 other species of rodent and in 1 species of rabbit. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction( RT-PCR)products of hantavirus from rodent tissues were indistinguishable from those from human H PS patients. More than 96% of the seropositive P . maniculatus were positive by RT-PCR, suggesting chronic infection. Antibody prevalences were similar among P . maniculatus trapped from Arizona ( 33%), New Mexico (29%),and Colorado( 29%). The numeric dominance of P. maniculatus,the high prevalence of antibody, and the RT-PCR findings implicate this species as the primary rodent reservoir for a new hantavirus in the southwestern United States