More than 20 years ago, hantaviral antigens were reported in tissues of the Eurasian common shrew (Sorex araneus), Eurasian water shrew (Neomys fodiens) and common mole (Talpa europea), suggesting that insectivores, or soricomorphs, might serve as reservoirs of unique hantaviruses. Using RT-PCR, sequences of a genetically distinct hantavirus, designated Seewis virus (SWSV), were amplified from lung tissue of a Eurasian common shrew, captured in October 2006 in Graubünden, Switzerland. Pair-wise analysis of the full-length S and partial M and L segments of SWSV indicated approximately 55%-72% similarity with hantaviruses harbored by Murinae, Arvicolinae, Neotominae and Sigmodontinae rodents. Phylogenetically, SWSV grouped with other recently identified shrew-borne hantaviruses. Intensified efforts are underway to clarify the genetic diversity of SWSV throughout the geographic range of the Eurasian common shrew, as well as to determine its relevance to human health.
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