A Tale of Two Valleys: Disparity in Sin Nombre Virus Antibody Reactivity between Neighboring Mojave Desert Communities

Risa Pesapane, Barryett Enge, Austin Roy, Rebecca Kelley, Karen Mabry, Brian C. Trainor, Deana Clifford, Janet E Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Hantaviruses are a group of globally distributed rodent-associated viruses, some of which are responsible for human morbidity and mortality. Sin Nombre orthohantavirus, a particularly virulent species of hantavirus associated with Peromyscus spp. mice, is actively monitored by the Department of Public Health in California (CDPH). Recently, CDPH documented high (40%) seroprevalence in a potentially novel reservoir species, the cactus mouse (Peromyscus eremicus) in Death Valley National Park. Methods: This study was performed in the extremely isolated Mojave Desert Amargosa River valley region of southeastern Inyo County, California, 105 km from Death Valley, approximately over the same time interval as the CDPH work in Death Valley (between 2011 and 2016). Similar rodent species were captured as in Death Valley and were tested for select hantaviruses using serology and RT-PCR to assess risk to human health and the conservation of the endemic endangered Amargosa vole. Results: Among 192 rodents tested, including 56 Peromyscus spp., only one seropositive harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis) was detected. Discussion: These data highlight the heterogeneity in the prevalence of hantavirus infection even among nearby desert communities and suggest that further studies of hantavirus persistence in desert environments are needed to more accurately inform the risks to public health and wildlife conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-294
Number of pages5
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • Amargosa
  • California
  • hantavirus
  • One Health
  • public health
  • wildlife conservation
  • zoonotic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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