Hantavirus RNA in saliva from patients with hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome

Emerg Infect Dis. 2008 Mar;14(3):406-11. doi: 10.3201/eid1403.071242.


Hantaviruses cause 2 zoonotic diseases, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome. Infection is usually initiated after inhalation of virus-contaminated rodent excreta. In addition to the zoonotic infection route, growing evidence suggests person-to-person transmission of Andes virus. For this reason, we studied whether saliva from HFRS patients contained hantavirus. During an outbreak in northern Sweden of nephropathia epidemica (NE), a milder form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, we collected saliva and plasma from 14 hospitalized NE patients with verified Puumala virus (PUUV) infection. PUUV RNA was detected in saliva from 10 patients (range 1,530-121,323 PUUV RNA copies/mL) by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. The PUUV S-segment sequences from saliva and plasma of the same patients were identical. Our data show that hantavirus RNA could be detected in human saliva several days after onset of disease symptoms and raise the question whether interhuman transmission of hantavirus may occur through saliva.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Base Sequence
  • Female
  • Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome / virology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthohantavirus*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis*
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Saliva / virology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • RNA, Viral