Tula virus (TULV) is a vole-associated hantavirus with low or no pathogenicity to humans. In the present study, 686 common voles ( Microtus arvalis ), 249 field voles ( Microtus agrestis ) and 30 water voles ( Arvicola spec.) were collected at 79 sites in Germany, Luxembourg and France and screened by RT-PCR and TULV-IgG ELISA. TULV-specific RNA and/or antibodies were detected at 43 of the sites, demonstrating a geographically widespread distribution of the virus in the studied area. The TULV prevalence in common voles (16.7 %) was higher than that in field voles (9.2 %) and water voles (10.0 %). Time series data at ten trapping sites showed evidence of a lasting presence of TULV RNA within common vole populations for up to 34 months, although usually at low prevalence. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated a strong genetic structuring of TULV sequences according to geography and independent of the rodent species, confirming the common vole as the preferential host, with spillover infections to co-occurring field and water voles. TULV phylogenetic clades showed a general association with evolutionary lineages in the common vole as assessed by mitochondrial DNA sequences on a large geographical scale, but with local-scale discrepancies in the contact areas.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: May 1, 2016
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