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    Rodent borne hantaviruses are emerging viruses infecting humans through inhalation. They cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome and hemorrhagic cardiopulmonary syndrome. Recently, hantaviruses have been detected in other small mammals such as Soricomorpha (shrews, moles) and Chiroptera (bats), suggested as reservoirs for potential pandemic viruses and to play a role in the evolution of hantaviruses. It is important to study the global virome in different reservoirs, therefore our aim was to investigate whether shrews in Sweden carried any hantaviruses. Moreover, to accurately determine the host species, we developed a molecular method for identification of shrews. Shrews (n = 198), caught during 1998 in Sweden, were screened with a pan-hantavirus PCR using primers from a conserved region of the large genome segment. In addition to morphological typing of shrews, we developed a molecular based typing method using sequencing of the mitochondrial cytochrome C oxidase I (COI) and cytochrome B (CytB) genes. PCR amplified hantavirus and shrew fragments were sequenced and phylogenetically analysed. Hantavirus RNA was detected in three shrews. Sequencing identified the virus as Seewis hantavirus (SWSV), most closely related to previous isolates from Finland and Russia. All three SWSV sequences were retrieved from common shrews (Sorex araneus) sampled in Västerbotten County, Sweden. The genetic assay for shrew identification was able to identify native Swedish shrew species, and the genetic typing of the Swedish common shrews revealed that they were most similar to common shrews from Russia. We detected SWSV RNA in Swedish common shrew samples and developed a genetic assay for shrew identification based on the COI and CytB genes. This was the first report of presence of hantavirus in Swedish shrews.

    Citation

    Olivia Wesula Lwande, Nahla Mohamed, Göran Bucht, Clas Ahlm, Gert Olsson, Magnus Evander. Seewis hantavirus in common shrew (Sorex araneus) in Sweden. Virology journal. 2020 Dec 29;17(1):198

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    PMID: 33375950

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