Potential geographic distribution of hantavirus reservoirs in Brazil

Stefan Vilges De Oliveira, Luis E. Escobar, A. Townsend Peterson, Rodrigo Gurgel-Gonçalves

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Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome is an emerging zoonosis in Brazil. Human infections occur via inhalation of aerosolized viral particles from excreta of infected wild rodents. Necromys lasiurus and Oligoryzomys nigripes appear to be the main reservoirs of hantavirus in the Atlantic Forest and Cerrado biomes. We estimated and compared ecological niches of the two rodent species, and analyzed environmental factors influencing their occurrence, to understand the geography of hantavirus transmission. N. lasiurus showed a wide potential distribution in Brazil, in the Cerrado, Caatinga, and Atlantic Forest biomes. Highest climate suitability for O. nigripes was observed along the Brazilian Atlantic coast. Maximum temperature in the warmest months and annual precipitation were the variables that most influence the distributions of N. lasiurus and O. nigripes, respectively. Models based on occurrences of infected rodents estimated a broader area of risk for hantavirus transmission in southeastern and southern Brazil, coinciding with the distribution of human cases of hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome. We found no demonstrable environmental differences among occurrence sites for the rodents and for human cases of hantavirus. However, areas of northern and northeastern Brazil are also apparently suitable for the two species, without broad coincidence with human cases. Modeling of niches and distributions of rodent reservoirs indicates potential for transmission of hantavirus across virtually all of Brazil outside the Amazon Basin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere85137
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 31 2013

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