A seasonal rodent-borne disease surveillance program was established at Dagmar North Training Area located near the demilitarized zone, Republic of Korea, from 2001 through 2005. Selected habitats surveyed included earthen banks separating rice paddies, fighting positions along a 5 m rock-faced earthen berm, and extensive tall grasses with various degrees of herbaceous and scrub vegetation associated with dirt roads, rice paddies, ditches, ponds, or the Imjin River. Of the nine species of small mammals captured, the striped field mouse (Apodemus agrarius), the primary reservoir for Hantaan virus, was the most frequently collected, representing 92.5% of the 1,848 small mammals captured. Males were captured similarly to females during the spring and summer seasons but were captured less frequently during the fall and winter seasons. Gravid rates were highest in the fall (25.5–57.3%) with the lowest rates during the summer (0.0–2.2%). Capture rates were the lowest along earthen banks separating rice paddies (5.5%) and highest in unmanaged tall grasses and crawling vegetation (15.3–43.5%). An increased knowledge of ecological factors that impact the abundance and distribution of small mammals and the associated ectoparasites and pathogens they harbor is critical for developing accurate disease risk assessments and mitigation strategies for preventing vector- and rodent-borne diseases among soldiers training in field environments.
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Vol. 36 • No. 1