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Long-Term Study of a Hantavirus Reservoir Population in an Urban Protected Area, Argentina

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Abstract

Green spaces in urban areas can play a key role in protecting wildlife. However, the presence of wildlife in urban areas can lead to human health risks. Although the presence of the rodent species Oligoryzomys flavescens (hantavirus reservoir) has been recorded in cities of Argentina, its population dynamics in this type of habitat is still unknown. Here, we evaluated: (1) long-term spatial and temporal patterns of O. flavescens abundance and how these patterns were influenced by weather factors and (2) the seroprevalence of hantavirus and the identity of the viral lineage circulating in the population that inhabits the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, a protected area in the city of Buenos Aires. Genetic results confirmed that the pathogenic ANDES Central Lechiguanas virus is present in O. flavescens populations inhabiting this urban reserve. Abundance of O. flavescens showed interannual and seasonal fluctuations, with maximum values in winter and spring and minimum ones in summer and autumn. Summers with the highest abundances of O. flavescens were preceded by warmer winters, while winters with lower abundances were preceded by warmer summers. On the other hand, accumulated precipitations in the previous 6 months positively affected winter abundance. These results could help the authorities in charge of the green spaces of Buenos Aires to identify priority areas and times of the year for the implementation of preventive measures that minimize the contact of rodents with visitors. Such measures could be intensified when winters are warmer than normal, and summers are cooler and wetter than normal.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the team of Laboratorio de Ecología de Poblaciones (Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales-UBA) for their assistance during the field sampling and to the staff at Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur for logistic support. This research was supported with grants from Universidad de Buenos Aires and Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Correspondence to Emiliano Muschetto.

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Muschetto, E., Cueto, G.R., Cavia, R. et al. Long-Term Study of a Hantavirus Reservoir Population in an Urban Protected Area, Argentina. EcoHealth 15, 804–814 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-018-1360-3

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