The proportion of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) with recently acquired Sin Nombre virus (SNV) infections is an indicator of epizootic intensity and may be key in predicting outbreaks of hantavirus cardio-pulmonary syndrome in humans. We investigated whether incidence of recent infections was related to season, sex, reproductive status, or habitat disturbance. In May and September, 2006, we sampled 912 deer mice at six sites in Utah. We determined SNV antibody prevalence and estimated the number of recent infections with an avidity enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Antibody prevalence in adults (n=735) was 22%, and putative maternal antibody prevalence in juveniles (n=177) was 7%. Sampling period explained a significant amount of the variance in the probability of recent infections, which were two times more common in May versus September. Additionally, prevalence of high-avidity maternal antibodies (i.e., from dams with older infections) in juveniles did not correspond to the antibody avidity patterns in adult females. In May, no juveniles had high-avidity antibodies compared to adult females (49%); in September, avidity could not be measured in juveniles because none were seropositive, despite large sample sizes (n=84) and an 11% seroprevalence in adult females. Based on the results, coupled with those from the literature, we speculate that the majority of new infections may occur predominantly in the spring and that SNV may impair reproductive output of females.
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Vol. 45 • No. 2