Indexed on: 29 May '14Published on: 29 May '14Published in: Zoonoses and Public Health
Dobrava-Belgrade virus (DOBV) is a hantavirus species that causes the most severe form of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Europe. DOBV has been detected in three Apodemus rodents: A. flavicollis, A. agrarius and A. ponticus. These emerging viruses appear throughout the Balkan Peninsula including Serbia as its central part. In this study, we examined the seroprevalence, molecular epidemiology and phylogenetics of DOBV from A. flavicollis captured at six Serbian localities. Furthermore, we applied microsatellite typing of host animal genome to analyse the role of host kinship in DOBV animal transmission. The overall IgG seropositivity rate over 3 years (2008-2010) was 11.9% (22/185). All seropositive samples were subjected to RT-PCR and DNA sequencing for S and L genome segments (pos. 291-1079 nt and 2999-3316 nt, respectively). DOBV was genetically detected in three samples from mountain Tara in western Serbia, a newly detected DOBV focus in the Balkans. No sequence data from human cases from Serbia are available for the studied period. However, collected DOBV isolates in this work phylogenetically clustered together with isolates from Serbian human cases dating from 2002, with 1.9% nucleotide divergence. We determined the level of kinship between seropositive and seronegative animal groups and found no significant difference, suggesting that horizontal virus transmission in the studied population was the same within and among the hatches. Our findings are the first genetic detection of DOBV in rodents in Serbia. We confirm wide and continuous hantavirus presence in the examined parts of the Balkans, underlying the necessity of continual monitoring of hantavirus circulation in A. flavicollis.