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Puumala virus dynamics in bank voles along habitat and community gradients

the ecology and risk of an emerging infectious disease

Khalil, Hussein (2017). Puumala virus dynamics in bank voles along habitat and community gradients. Diss. (sammanfattning/summary) Uppsala : Sveriges lantbruksuniv., Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae, 1652-6880 ; 2017:32
ISBN 978-91-576-8837-8
eISBN 978-91-576-8838-5
[Doctoral thesis]

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The majority of recent infectious disease outbreaks are zoonotic, i.e. caused by pathogens shared between humans and other vertebrates, and many of those originate in wildlife. The life cycle of zoonotic diseases is complex, and involves at least one non-human host. To adequately assess human risk, we need to understand relevant ecological interactions driving host and pathogen populations.

Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) is a directly transmitted pathogen, carried by the bank vole (Myodes glareolus), and causes a mild form of haemorrhagic fever in humans. Using long-term data from a 100 × 100 km study area, my project aimed to improve spatial and temporal predictions of PUUV risk in northern Sweden. I was interested in how community interactions influence bank vole abundance and infection rates, in an ecosystem where several species recently declined.

We found that either overall density or density of infected voles can be used to predict incidence in humans, and the predictor of choice depends on the seasonal relationship between bank vole density and PUUV prevalence. Also, bank vole density and distribution in the landscape at the beginning of a vole population cycle can predict peak human risk during that cycle, approximately 18 months later.

To identify plots with infected bank voles, we developed and successfully validated a model based on microhabitat variables. Amongst others, important variables were related to cover, e.g. large holes, and resource availability, e.g. bilberry shrubs.

Community interactions contributed to both host and pathogen dynamics, and we found evidence for the dilution effect, by which non-host species may reduce PUUV prevalence or host density. The decline in Tengmalm’s owl (Aegolius funereus), an important predator of voles, coincided with a long-term increase in the density of infected bank voles, and owls were more likely to prey on infected bank voles in less isolated forest patches. PUUV prevalence declined with common shrew (Sorex araneus) density, while bank vole density decreased as field vole (Microtus agrestis) density increased in clear-cuts.

The present work enables public health professionals to forecast PUUV outbreaks and predict the spatial distribution of infected voles. Further, authorities and other stakeholders ought to conserve and promote functional diversity in the ecosystem, given the potential of competitors and predators to reduce human risk.

Authors/Creators:Khalil, Hussein
Title:Puumala virus dynamics in bank voles along habitat and community gradients
Subtitle:the ecology and risk of an emerging infectious disease
Series Name/Journal:Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
Year of publishing :2017
Depositing date:17 March 2017
Number of Pages:59
IKhalil H, Ecke F, Evander M, Bucht G, Hörnfeldt B. Ecology meets epidemiology: Early warning of zoonotic risk. (Submitted manuscript)
IIKhalil H, Olsson GE, Magnusson M, Evander, M, Hörnfeldt B, Ecke F. Spatial prediction and validation of zoonotic hazard through micro-habitat properties: where does Puumala hantavirus hole – up? (Submitted manuscript.)
IIIKhalil H, Ecke F, Evander M, Hörnfeldt B(2016). Selective predation on hantavirus - infected voles by owls and confounding effects from landscape properties. Oecologia 181(2),597–606.
IVKhalil H, Ecke F, Evander M, Magnusson M, Hörnfeldt B (2016). Declining ecosystem health and the dilution effect. Scientific Reports 6,(31314)
Place of Publication:Uppsala
Publisher:Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
ISBN for printed version:978-91-576-8837-8
ISBN for electronic version:978-91-576-8838-5
Publication Type:Doctoral thesis
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:L Animal production > L20 Animal ecology
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Agrovoc terms:voles, animal behaviour, disease transmission, zoonoses, hantavirus
Keywords:bank vole, dilution effect, disease ecology, nephropathia epidemica, puumala virus, zoonosis
Permanent URL:
ID Code:14193
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
External funders:FORMAS
Deposited By: Mr. Hussein Khalil
Deposited On:22 Mar 2017 13:26
Metadata Last Modified:10 Sep 2020 13:41

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