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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 intently associated to strains from Finland and Karelia than to the variants present in northern Sweden and Denmark. That is revealed in a brand new research from Uppsala College, carried out in collaboration with infectious ailments medical doctors in Kristianstad and printed within the scientific journal Rising Infectious Illnesses.

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 research’s first authors

Hantaviruses are a household of viruses naturally discovered primarily in rodents reminiscent of mice, rats and voles. Sure hantaviruses are in a position to infect individuals and trigger two important teams of ailments: hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Each forms of illness are notifiable beneath the Communicable Illnesses Act, as they’ll trigger severe issues and even dying. In northern and central Europe, a variant of the virus, Puumala hantavirus, causes a comparatively delicate type of HRFS popularly referred to as ‘vole fever’ (nephropathia epidemica). Nonetheless, research have proven that this hantavirus may also trigger very extreme HRFS, which within the worst case may be deadly. In Sweden 100-450 instances of vole fever require hospital care annually, completely within the northern a part of the nation.

In 2018, a regionally 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. One other case was found in 2020, additionally in Skåne. In each instances, the sufferers involved had not been away travelling and had been contaminated of their dwelling space. In an try to grasp how this was potential, financial institution voles had been caught within the neighborhood of the sufferers’ houses and analysed for any prevalence 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 intently associated to viruses from Finland and Karelia.

The following step within the analysis is to seek out out the place the virus comes from and map its distribution within the southern components 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 develop into unwell? Or, has it develop into established in Skåne lately and solely simply begun to unfold? And the way did it get there?” wonders Professor Åke Lundkvist of Uppsala College, a co-author of the research. “Sadly the COVID-19 pandemic intervened, which significantly delayed the completion of this research. These findings are very attention-grabbing and present how vital it’s to analyze the causes as shortly as potential once we see an infectious illness in a brand new geographical space.”

The research 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 Attributable to Puumala Virus in Financial institution Voles, Scania, Southern Sweden. Rising Infectious Illnesses.



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