To identify and predict situations of increased risk of orthohantavirus infection in humans, it is necessary to study the relationships between the virus and its rodent hosts. The present study investigated orthohantavirus infection in an assemblage of wild Sigmodontinae rodents of the Paraná Delta, Argentina, and providing new evidence of host-switching events. Rodents belonging to the species Oxymycterus rufus (n = 187), Akodon azarae (n = 82), Oligoryzomys flavescens (n = 80), Oligoryzomys nigripes (n = 47), Scapteromys aquaticus (n = 38), Deltamys kempi (n = 7) and Holochilus brasiliensis (n = 2) were captured at 4 sampling sites during 20 trapping sessions. Blood samples were analyzed by IgG ELISA and livers by a nested reverse transcription PCR for the diagnosis of orthohantavirus infection. The amplified products of the S and M orthohantavirus genomes were sequenced and analyzed to determine similarities with species of the Orthohantavirus genus. The species of the Oligoryzomys positive to the virus were confirmed by amplifying and sequencing the complete cyt b gene. Of the 443 serum samples analyzed by IgG ELISA, A. azarae presented the highest host-specific prevalence value (10/82, 12.2%) followed by Ol. nigripes (4/47, 8.5%) and Ox. rufus (1/187, 0.5%). All the sero-positive Ol. nigripes (n = 4) were positive to the amplification of the S and M segments of the Lechiguanas genotype (98% nucleotide identity for both segments). This is surprising given that Ol. nigripes has been previously associated with Juquitiba genotype, not Lechiguanas. The latter is generally associated with Ol. flavescens, which in our study were all sero-negative. In addition, the association Ox. rufus - Pergamino genotype found here is, to our knowledge, novel and another potential evidence of host-switching considering that Pergamino has been originally associated with A. azarae. These findings contribute to the building evidence that contradicts the one-genotype-one-reservoir species premise in the association between rodent reservoirs and orthohantaviruses, and supports the hypothesis that the community structure of sympatric host species may contribute to orthohantavirus dynamics.
Keywords: Host-switching; Lechiguanas; Oligoryzomys nigripes; Orthohantavirus; Oxymycterus rufus; Rodents; Virus-host associations.
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