Temporal variation in individual factors associated with hantavirus infection in bank voles during an epizootic : implications for Puumala virus transmission Dynamics
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Vector Borne and zoonotic disease. - New York
, p. 715-721
University of Antwerp
Puumala virus (PUUV), the causal agent of nephropathia epidemica in humans, is one of the many hantaviruses included in the list of emerging pathogens. Hantavirus infection is not distributed evenly among PUUV reservoir hosts (i.e., bank voles [Myodes glareolus]). Besides environmental factors and local population features, individual characteristics play an important role in vole PUUV infection risk. Identifying the relative importance of these individual characteristics can provide crucial information on PUUV transmission processes. In the present study, bank voles were monitored during the nephropathia epidemica outbreak of 2005 in Belgium. Vole sera were tested for presence of immunoglobulin G against PUUV, and a logistic mixed model was built to investigate the temporal variation in individual characteristics and their relative importance to PUUV infection risk in bank voles. Relative risk calculations for individual vole characteristics related to PUUV infection in the reservoir host show that reproductive activity dominates infection risk. The gender effect is only found in reproductively active voles, where reproductively active males have the highest infection risk. Results also revealed a clear seasonal variation in the importance of reproductive activity linked to PUUV infection. In contrast to the main effect found in other trapping sessions, no difference in infection risk ratio was found between reproductively active and nonactive voles in the spring period. Combined with increased infection risk for the reproductively nonactive group at that time, these results indicate a shift in the transmission process due to changes in bank vole behavior, physiology, or climate conditions. Hence, our results suggest that mathematical models should take into account seasonal shifts in transmission mechanisms. When these results are combined with the seasonal changes in population structure during the epizootic period, we identify vole reproductive activity and length of the breeding season as potential drivers of PUUV epizootics in west-central European regions.