A highly divergent Puumala virus lineage in southern Poland
Puumala virus (PUUV) represents one of the most important hantaviruses in Central Europe. Phylogenetic analyses of PUUV strains indicate a strong genetic structuring of this hantavirus. Recently, PUUV sequences were identified in the natural reservoir, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus), collected in the northern part of Poland. The objective of this study was to evaluate the presence of PUUV in bank voles from southern Poland. A total of 72 bank voles were trapped in 2009 at six sites in this part of Poland. RT-PCR and IgG-ELISA analyses detected three PUUV positive voles at one trapping site. The PUUV-infected animals were identified by cytochrome b gene analysis to belong to the Carpathian and Eastern evolutionary lineages of bank vole. The novel PUUV S, M and L segment nucleotide sequences showed the closest similarity to sequences of the Russian PUUV lineage from Latvia, but were highly divergent to those previously found in northern Poland, Slovakia and Austria. In conclusion, the detection of a highly divergent PUUV lineage in southern Poland indicates the necessity of further bank vole monitoring in this region allowing rational public health measures to prevent human infections.