Southern enlargement of hemorrhagic fever virus in Sweden linked to financial institution voles


Researchers have found that financial institution voles in Skåne, southern Sweden, carry a virus that may trigger hemorrhagic fever in people. This discovering was made greater than 500 km south of the beforehand recognized vary. The virus pressure found in Skåne seems to be extra carefully associated to strains from Finland and Karelia than to the variants present in northern Sweden and Denmark. This is revealed in a brand new examine from Uppsala University, performed in collaboration with infectious ailments docs in Kristianstad and revealed within the scientific journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

We had been stunned that such excessive proportion of the comparatively few voles that we caught had been really carrying a hantavirus that makes individuals unwell. And this was in an space greater than 500 km south of the beforehand recognized vary of the virus.” 

Elin Economou Lundeberg, infectious ailments physician at Kristianstad Central Hospital, one of many examine’s first authors

Hantaviruses are a household of viruses naturally discovered primarily in rodents similar to mice, rats and voles. Certain hantaviruses are capable of infect individuals and trigger two fundamental teams of ailments: hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Both sorts of illness are notifiable beneath the Communicable Diseases Act, as they’ll trigger severe issues and even demise. In northern and central Europe, a variant of the virus, Puumala hantavirus, causes a comparatively delicate type of HRFS popularly often called ‘vole fever’ (nephropathia epidemica). However, research have proven that this hantavirus can even trigger very extreme HRFS, which within the worst case could be deadly. In Sweden 100-450 circumstances of vole fever require hospital care every year, solely within the northern a part of the nation.

In 2018, a domestically contracted case of vole fever was reported in Skåne, greater than 500 km south of the beforehand recognized southernmost incidence of the illness in Sweden, which was north of Uppsala. Another case was found in 2020, additionally in Skåne. In each circumstances, the sufferers involved had not been away travelling and had been contaminated of their residence space. In an try to know how this was attainable, financial institution voles had been caught within the neighborhood of the sufferers’ properties and analysed for any incidence of hantavirus. It turned out that 9 of the 74 financial institution voles caught carried hantavirus genes. Genetic research have now proven that the virus differs markedly from the virus variants that flow into in northern Sweden and Denmark, and that it’s most carefully associated to viruses from Finland and Karelia.

The subsequent step within the analysis is to seek out out the place the virus comes from and map its distribution within the southern elements of Sweden.

“If the virus has existed within the space for a very long time and has merely not been found, why have not extra individuals turn into unwell? Or, has it turn into established in Skåne just lately and solely simply begun to unfold? And how did it get there?” wonders Professor Åke Lundkvist of Uppsala University, a co-author of the examine. “Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic intervened, which significantly delayed the completion of this examine. These findings are very attention-grabbing and present how necessary it’s to research the causes as shortly as attainable after we see an infectious illness in a brand new geographical space.”

The examine was financed by the EU (Horizon 2020) and SciLifeLab (Pandemic Laboratory Preparedness), together with native R&D funding from Kristianstad Central Hospital.


Journal reference:

Ling, J., et al. (2024). Nephropathia Epidemica Caused by Puumala Virus in Bank Voles, Scania, Southern Sweden. Emerging Infectious Diseases.


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