Field vole-associated Traemmersee hantavirus from Germany represents a novel hantavirus species
Vole-associated hantaviruses occur in the Old and New World. Tula orthohantavirus (TULV) is widely distributed throughout the European continent in its reservoir, the common vole (Microtus arvalis), but the virus was also frequently detected in field voles (Microtus agrestis) and other vole species. TULV and common voles are absent from Great Britain. However, field voles there harbor Tatenale and Kielder hantaviruses. Here we screened 126 field voles and 13 common voles from Brandenburg, Germany, for hantavirus infections. One common vole and four field voles were anti-TULV antibody and/or TULV RNA positive. In one additional, seropositive field vole a novel hantavirus sequence was detected. The partial S and L segment nucleotide sequences were only 61.1% and 75.6% identical to sympatrically occurring TULV sequences, but showed highest similarity of approximately 80% to British Tatenale and Kielder hantaviruses. Subsequent determination of the entire nucleocapsid (N), glycoprotein (GPC), and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase encoding sequences and determination of the pairwise evolutionary distance (PED) value for the concatenated N and GPC amino acid sequences confirmed a novel orthohantavirus species, tentatively named Traemmersee orthohantavirus. The identification of this novel hantavirus in a field vole from eastern Germany underlines the necessity of a large-scale, broad geographical hantavirus screening of voles to understand evolutionary processes of virus–host associations and host switches.
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