Plasma samples from 267 wild house mice (Mus domesticus) trapped at 14 sites in southeastern Australia were screened for antibody to 14 viruses normally associated with laboratory-reared rodents and to Mycoplasma pulmonis. Serologic prevalence was high for murine cytomegalovirus (99%, n = 94), murine coronavirus (95%), and murine rotavirus (74%). Samples from mice collected at all sites contained antibody to these viruses. The serologic prevalence was lower for mouse adenovirus, strain K87 (37%), parvovirus (33%), and reovirus type 3 (28%), with substantial site-to-site variation. Plasma from mice collected at 12 sites contained mouse adenovirus or reovirus antibody, and samples from mice at eight sites contained parvovirus antibody. Parvovirus-antibody positive mice were typically from high density populations or from low density populations that had recently declined from high density. Antibody to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and Sendai virus occurred at only three sites, and the serologic prevalence was very low (9.6% and 1.8%, respectively). All of the LCMV-positive mice were from northeastern New South Wales. The presence of this zoonotic virus in a mouse plague-prone region raises questions about human health risks resulting from cohabitation with large numbers of mice. It appeared that mouse populations at high density or declining from high density had higher prevalence of viral antibody than populations that had been at low or moderate density for some time. Thus, viral epizootics may occur among high-density populations and may be responsible for or precipitate declines in mouse density. These data raise the possibility of rodent viruses having potential as biological control agents.
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