Indexed on: 20 May '15Published on: 20 May '15Published in: Vector borne and zoonotic diseases (Larchmont, N.Y.)
As a result of discontinuing vaccination against smallpox after the late 1970s, different orthopoxviruses (OPVs), such as cowpox virus (CPXV), have become a re-emerging healthcare threat among zoonotic pathogens. In Hungary, data on OPV prevalence among its rodent host species have been absent. Here, rodents belonging to four species, i.e., striped field mouse (Apodemus agrarius), yellow-necked mouse (A. flavicollis), wood mouse (A. sylvaticus) and bank vole (Myodes glareolus), were live trapped at 13 sampling plots on a 149-ha area in the Mecsek Mountains, Hungary, from March to September in 2011 and 2012. Rodent sera were collected and screened for OPV-reactive antibodies with an immunfluorescence assay (IFA). Among the 1587 tested rodents, 286 (18.0%) harbored OPV-specific antibodies. Seroprevalence was the highest for the bank vole (71.4%) and the striped field mouse (66.7%). Due to a masting event in the autumn of 2011 across Central Europe, the abundance of bank voles increased drastically in the 2012 season, raising the overall OPV seroprevalence. We provide the first data on OPV occurrence and seroprevalence in rodents in Hungary. The circulation of OPV in rodents in densely populated areas warrants further studies to elucidate the zoonotic potential of OPV in humans.