Assessment of hantavirus and arenavirus antibody prevalence and associated rodent species in Dickens County, Texas

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Date: February-November 2012
From: The Texas Journal of Science(Vol. 64, Issue 1-4)
Publisher: Texas Academy of Science
Document Type: Article
Length: 4,045 words
Lexile Measure: 1250L

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Abstract.--A trapping program was implemented to sample rodents seasonally in Dickens County, Texas, from June 2008 to April 2009. A total of 292 rodents were collected using live traps (trapping success rate = 20.2%). Blood samples collected from the specimens were tested for evidence of IgG antibodies to New World hantaviruses and arenaviruses. A total of 30 individuals (10.3% of captured rodents) from four species, spanning three genera, tested positive for viral antibodies. Twenty-one individuals (7.2% of captured rodents) tested positive for hantavirus IgG antibodies, and nine individuals (3.1% of captured rodents) tested positive for arenavirus IgG antibodies. A statistically significant, nonrandom distribution of antibody positive rodents was observed between trapping localities.


Members of the virus genera Hantavirus (family Bunyaviridae) and Arenavirus (family Arenaviridae) are rodent-borne viruses with cosmopolitan distributions, primarily associated with the rodent families Cricetidae (New World) and Muridae (Old World). Both genera of viruses are associated with human illnesses. Seven New World hantaviruses have been associated with Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS--Fulhorst et al. 2007), a rodent-borne viral zoonosis that can cause an array of disease symptoms and is frequently fatal (Nichol et al. 1993; Plyusnin et al. 1996; Schmaljohn & Hjelle 1997). However, the human health implications of arenaviruses are less clear. New World arenaviruses (Tacaribe serocomplex) have been separated into two phylogeographic clades: South American arenaviruses, a number of which have been associated with severe human disease (Peters 2002), and North American arenaviruses, whose human health impact has not been rigorously assessed (Fulhorst et al. 2007). Arenaviruses and hantaviruses occur over widespread geographic areas, however, little is known about the distribution of individual viruses across most of their range, though it has been documented that multiple viruses (at both the generic and specific levels) can occur in geographic sympatry (Mantooth et al. 2001; Milazzo et al. 2010).

The 17 hantavirus species known to occur in North America are associated with 10 species of rodents spanning five rodent genera (Nichol et al. 2005; Mills et al. 2010). Six hantavirus-associated rodent species occur in Texas, including Microtus ochrogaster, Oryzomys palustris, Peromyscus leucopus, P. maniculatus, Reithrodontomys megalotis, and Sigmodon hispidus (Nichol et al. 2005). Three of these rodent species are associated with viruses that are causally associated with HPS (Fulhorst et al. 2007).

The eight arenaviruses known to occur in North America are associated with seven rodent species, spanning three genera (Salvato et al. 2005; Inizan et al. 2010), with Neotoma micropus, N. leucodon, N. mexicana, O. palustris, and S. hispidus occurring in Texas (Schmidly 2004). In addition to the recognized arenavirus hosts, other Texas rodent genera (Onychomys, Baiomys, Peromyscus, Dipodomys, and Chaetodipus) have tested positive for arenavirus antibodies (Milazzo et al. 2010). Though no host relationship has been established in Texas from these genera, Peromyscus californicus is a recognized natural host of Bear Canyon virus (BCNV) in California (Fulhorst et al. 2002).

This study was conducted in Dickens Co., Texas (Figure 1), at a topographic transition from the Llano Estacado to the Rolling Plains. This ecotone offers increased...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A425811175