University of Oulu

Aminikhah, M., Forsman, J.T., Koskela, E. et al. Rodent host population dynamics drive zoonotic Lyme Borreliosis and Orthohantavirus infections in humans in Northern Europe. Sci Rep 11, 16128 (2021).

Rodent host population dynamics drive zoonotic Lyme Borreliosis and Orthohantavirus infections in humans in Northern Europe

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Author: Aminikhah, Mahdi1; Forsman, Jukka T.2; Koskela, Esa3;
Organizations: 1Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), University of Oulu, Paavo Havaksen tie 3, 90014 Oulu, Finland
3Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland
4Department of Health Security, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-08-18


Zoonotic diseases, caused by pathogens transmitted between other vertebrate animals and humans, pose a major risk to human health. Rodents are important reservoir hosts for many zoonotic pathogens, and rodent population dynamics affect the infection dynamics of rodent-borne diseases, such as diseases caused by hantaviruses. However, the role of rodent population dynamics in determining the infection dynamics of rodent-associated tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme borreliosis (LB), caused by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato bacteria, have gained limited attention in Northern Europe, despite the multiannual abundance fluctuations, the so-called vole cycles, that characterise rodent population dynamics in the region. Here, we quantify the associations between rodent abundance and LB human cases and Puumala Orthohantavirus (PUUV) infections by using two time series (25-year and 9-year) in Finland. Both bank vole (Myodes glareolus) abundance as well as LB and PUUV infection incidence in humans showed approximately 3-year cycles. Without vector transmitted PUUV infections followed the bank vole host abundance fluctuations with two-month time lag, whereas tick-transmitted LB was associated with bank vole abundance ca. 12 and 24 months earlier. However, the strength of association between LB incidence and bank vole abundance ca. 12 months before varied over the study years. This study highlights that the human risk to acquire rodent-borne pathogens, as well as rodent-associated tick-borne pathogens is associated with the vole cycles in Northern Fennoscandia, yet with complex time lags.

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Series: Scientific reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
ISSN-E: 2045-2322
ISSN-L: 2045-2322
Volume: 11
Article number: 16128
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-95000-y
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This research was funded by Kvantum Institute at University of Oulu (M.A.), the Academy of Finland (Grant Numbers 329332, 310104, 329326 to E.R.K.; 314833, 319898 to S.M.K.; 324605 to T.M; 257340 to E.K.), Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (J.S. and J.O.) and Kone Foundation (J.T.F.).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 314833
Detailed Information: 314833 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
319898 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
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