Serologic and genetic identification of Peromyscus maniculatus as the primary rodent reservoir for a new hantavirus in the southwestern United States

J Infect Dis. 1994 Jun;169(6):1271-80. doi: 10.1093/infdis/169.6.1271.


An outbreak of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in the southwestern United States was etiologically linked to a newly recognized hantavirus. Knowledge that hantaviruses are maintained in rodent reservoirs stimulated a field and laboratory investigation of 1696 small mammals of 31 species. The most commonly captured rodent, the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), had the highest antibody prevalence (30%) to four hantavirus antigens. Antibody also was detected in 10 other species of rodent and in 1 species of rabbit. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) products of hantavirus from rodent tissues were indistinguishable from those from human HPS patients. More than 96% of the seropositive P. maniculatus were positive by RT-PCR, suggesting chronic infection. Antibody prevalences were similar among P. maniculatus trapped from Arizona (33%), New Mexico (29%), and Colorado (29%). The numeric dominance of P. maniculatus, the high prevalence of antibody, and the RT-PCR findings implicate this species as the primary rodent reservoir for a new hantavirus in the southwestern United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Viral
  • Disease Reservoirs*
  • Female
  • Hantavirus / genetics
  • Hantavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Male
  • Mammals / microbiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peromyscus / microbiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Southwestern United States


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • DNA, Viral