Hantaviruses, family Hantaviridae, are zoonotic pathogens that are transmitted to humans by persistently infected rodents. Over the past years, hantaviruses of unknown pathogenicity for human have also been detected in shrews, moles and bats. In Europe at least four hantavirus species pathogenic to humans are present. Human infections may result in a haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome of different severity. More than 90% of all human hantavirus infections recorded in Germany are caused by Puumala orthohantavirus (PUUV). Additional human pathogenic hantaviruses in Germany are Dobrava-Belgrade orthohantavirus (DOBV), Tula orthohantavirus (TULV) and the recently in pet rats in Germany detected Seoul orthohantavirus (SEOV). Furthermore, field vole-associated Traemmersee orthohantavirus (TRAV), shrew-associated Seewis orthohantavirus and Asikkala orthohantavirus and mole-borne Bruges orthohantavirus were detected in Germany. So far it is unknown whether these hantaviruses can infect and cause disease in humans. In addition, it remains to be elucidated if hantaviruses can infect and cause disease in companion animals.
For the surveillance of the hantavirus situation a monitoring of rodent reservoirs is being performed in the frame of the network “Rodent-borne pathogens”. This monitoring is mainly focused on wild-living rodents from hantavirus outbreak regions in Baden-Wuerttemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria, but also from other federal states. After a serological screening of pleural fluid samples by IgG-ELISAs using homologous recombinant antigens, lung samples will be studied by RT-PCR analysis and nucleotide sequences will be evaluated by phylogenetic analysis.