Seroprevalence of antibodies to hantaviruses and leptospires in selected Italian population groups
A study of hantaviral and leptospiral antibodies in selected population groups was performed. Among high risk subjects in the Rome area, Hantaan antibody was found in mammalogists (100%) and dialysis patients (60%), while none of the trappers, oarsmen, river policemen and firemen studied tested positive for antibodies to hantaviruses. In occupationally-exposed subjects (farmers, rangers, lumbermen, hunters) from rural and densly forested areas of northern Italian regions, the prevalence of Hantaan antibody ranged from 3.30% to 8.80%. In the positive cases the comparative antibody titration using different hantaviruses showed a predominance of Hantaan virus (titer 1:128) compared to Puumala virus (titer 1:32); no reactivity was observed with Seoul or Prospect Hill viruses.
In Rome, leptospiral antibodies were found in trappers (210fo) and oarsmen (50fo) at a titer of 1:50 or more, with a predominance for the L. icterohaemorrhagiae serotype (85%). In the Alpine areas the leptospiral antibody prevalence was 12% and L. icterohaemorrhagiae and L. bralislava were the predominant serotypes.
The presence of hantavirus infections, suspected after the first epidemiological survey conducted in central Italy, is now supported by the new data obtained in northern Italian regions. Furthermore, the recent observation of one case of Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS) in the Udine area, not far from the Yugoslavian border, strongly confirms the presence of one or more hantaviruses in Italy.
Key wordsHantaviruses Leptospires Epidemiology
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