Background Orthohantaviruses, causing hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome, pose a significant public health threat worldwide. Despite the significant mortality and morbidity, effective antiviral therapeutics for orthohantavirus infections are currently unavailable. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of HFRS-associated orthohantaviruses and identify the etiological agent of orthohantavirus outbreaks in southern Republic of Korea (ROK). Methodology/Principal findings We collected small mammals on Jeju Island during 2018–2020. We detected the Hantaan virus (HTNV)-specific antibodies and RNA using an indirect immunofluorescence assay test and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction on Apodemus agrarius chejuensis (A. chejuensis). The prevalence of anti-HTNV antibodies among rodents was 14.1%. A total of six seropositive mouse harbored HTNV RNA. The amplicon-based next-generation sequencing provided nearly full-length tripartite genomic sequences of six HTNV harbored by A. chejuensis. Phylogenetic and tanglegram analyses were conducted for inferring evolutionary relationships between orthohantaviruses with their reservoir hosts. Phylogenetic analysis showed a novel distinct HTNV genotype. The detected HTNV genomic sequences were phylogenetically related to a viral sequence derived from HFRS patient in southern ROK. Tanglegram analysis demonstrated the segregation of HTNV genotypes correspond-ing to Apodemus spp. divergence. Conclusions/Significance Our results suggest that A. chejuensis-borne HTNV may be a potential etiological agent of HFRS in southern ROK. Ancestral HTNV may infect A. chejuensis prior to geological isolation between the Korean peninsula and Jeju Island, supporting the co-evolution of orthohan-taviruses and rodents. This study arises awareness among physicians for HFRS outbreaks in southern ROK.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases