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Epidemics. 2009 Jun;1(2):101-7. doi: 10.1016/j.epidem.2009.03.002. Epub 2009 Apr 2.

Cyclic hantavirus epidemics in humans--predicted by rodent host dynamics.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.


Wildlife-originated zoonotic diseases are a major contributor to emerging infectious diseases. Hantaviruses cause thousands of human disease cases annually worldwide, and understanding and predicting human hantavirus epidemics still poses unsolved challenges. Here we studied the three-level relationships between the human disease nephropathia epidemica (NE), its etiological agent Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) and the rodent host of the virus, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus). A large and long-term data set (14 years, 2583 human NE cases and 4751 trapped bank voles) indicates that the number of human infections shows both seasonal and multi-annual fluctuations, is influenced by the phase of vole cycle and time of the year, and follows vole abundance with a lag of a few months. Our results suggest that although human hantavirus epidemics are preceded by high sero prevalence in the host population, they may be accurately predicted solely by the population dynamics of the carrier species, even without any knowledge about hantavirus dynamics in the host populations.

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