Hantaviruses (family Bunyaviridae) are enveloped negative-sense tripartite RNA viruses. The natural hosts of hantaviruses include rodents, shrews, moles, and bats. Imjin virus (MJNV) is a shrew-borne hantavirus identified from the Ussuri white-toothed shrews (Crocidura lasiura) in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and China. We have isolated MJNV and determined its prevalence and molecular diversity in Gyeonggi province, ROK. However, the distribution and phylogeography of MJNV in other regions of ROK remain unknown. A total of 96 C. lasiura were captured from Gangwon and Gyeonggi provinces, ROK, during 2011-2014. Among them, four (4.2%) shrews were positive for anti-MJNV IgG and MJNV RNA was detected from nine (9.4%), respectively. Based on the prevalence of MJNV RNA, the preponderance of infected shrews was male and adult, consistent with the gender- and weight-specific prevalence of hantaviruses in other species. We monitored the viral load of MJNV RNA in various tissues of shrews, which would reflect the dynamic infectious status and circulation of MJNV in nature. Our phylogeographic and genomic characterization of MJNV suggested natural occurrences of recombination and reassortment in the virus population. Thus, these findings provide significant insights into the epidemiology, phylogeographic diversity, and dynamic circulation and evolution of shrew-borne hantaviruses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas