Hantavirus infection is a zoonotic disease that is associated with hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome and cardiopulmonary syndrome in human. Anjozorobe virus, a representative virus of Thailand orthohantavirus (THAIV), was recently discovered from rodents in Anjozorobe-Angavo forest in Madagascar. To assess the circulation of hantavirus at the national level, we carried out a survey of small terrestrial mammals from representative regions of the island and identified environmental factors associated with hantavirus infection. As we were ultimately interested in the potential for human exposure, we focused our research in the peridomestic area.
Sampling was achieved in twenty districts of Madagascar, with a rural and urban zone in each district. Animals were trapped from a range of habitats and examined for hantavirus RNA by nested RT-PCR. We also investigated the relationship between hantavirus infection probability in rats and possible risk factors by using Generalized Linear Mixed Models.
Overall, 1242 specimens from seven species were collected (Rattus rattus, Rattus norvegicus, Mus musculus, Suncus murinus, Setifer setosus, Tenrec ecaudatus, Hemicentetes semispinosus). Overall, 12.4% (111/897) of Rattus rattus and 1.6% (2/125) of Mus musculus were tested positive for THAIV. Rats captured within houses were less likely to be infected than rats captured in other habitats, whilst rats from sites characterized by high precipitation and relatively low seasonality were more likely to be infected than those from other areas. Older animals were more likely to be infected, with infection probability showing a strong increase with weight.
We report widespread distribution of THAIV in the peridomestic rats of Madagascar, with highest prevalence for those living in humid areas. Although the potential risk of infection to human may also be widespread, our results provide a first indication of specific zone with high transmission. Gathered data will be helpful to implement policies for control and prevention of human risk infection.