Distributional ecology of Andes hantavirus: A macroecological approach
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Background: Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is an infection endemic in Chile and Argentina, caused by Andes hantavirus (ANDV). The rodent Oligoryzomys longicaudatus is suggested as the main reservoir, although several other species of Sigmodontinae are known hosts of ANDV. Here, we explore potential ANDV transmission risk to humans in southern South America, based on eco-epidemiological associations among: six rodent host species, seropositive rodents, and human HPS cases. Methods: We used ecological niche modeling and macroecological approaches to determine potential geographic distributions and assess environmental similarity among rodents and human HPS cases. Results: Highest numbers of rodent species (five) were in Chile between 35° and 41°S latitude. Background similarity tests showed niche similarity in 14 of the 56 possible comparisons: similarity between human HPS cases and the background of all species and seropositive rodents was supported (except for Abrothrix sanborni). Of interest among the results is the likely role of O. longicaudatus, Loxodontomys micropus, Abrothrix olivaceus, and Abrothrix longipilis in HPS transmission to humans. Conclusions: Our results support a role of rodent species' distributions as a risk factor for human HPS at coarse scales, and suggest that the role of the main reservoir (O. longicaudatus) may be supported by the broader rodent host community in some areas. © 2018 The Author(s).