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Households as hotspots of Lassa fever? Assessing the spatial distribution of Lassa virus-infected rodents in rural villages of Guinea

Mariën, Joachim, Lo Iacono, Giovanni, Rieger, Toni, Magassouba, Nfaly, Günther, Stephan and Fichet-Calvet, Elisabeth (2020) Households as hotspots of Lassa fever? Assessing the spatial distribution of Lassa virus-infected rodents in rural villages of Guinea Emerging Microbes & Infections, 9 (1). pp. 1055-1064.

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The Natal multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis) is the reservoir host of Lassa virus (LASV), an arenavirus that causes Lassa haemorrhagic fever in humans in West Africa. While previous studies suggest that spillover risk is focal within rural villages due to the spatial behaviour of the rodents, the level of clustering was never specifically assessed. Nevertheless, detailed information on the spatial distribution of infected rodents would be highly valuable to optimize LASV-control campaigns, which are limited to rodent control or interrupting human–rodent contact considering that a human vaccine is not available. Here, we analysed data from a four-year field experiment to investigate whether LASV-infected rodents cluster in households in six rural villages in Guinea. Our analyses were based on the infection status (antibody or PCR) and geolocation of rodents (n = 864), and complemented with a phylogenetic analysis of LASV sequences (n = 119). We observed that the majority of infected rodents were trapped in a few houses (20%) and most houses were rodent-free at a specific point in time (60%). We also found that LASV strains circulating in a specific village were polyphyletic with respect to neighbouring villages, although most strains grouped together at the sub-village level and persisted over time. In conclusion, our results suggest that: (i) LASV spillover risk is heterogeneously distributed within villages in Guinea; (ii) viral elimination in one particular village is unlikely if rodents are not controlled in neighbouring villages. Such spatial information should be incorporated into eco-epidemiological models that assess the cost-efficiency of LASV control strategies.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Veterinary Medicine
Authors :
Mariën, Joachim
Lo Iacono,
Rieger, Toni
Magassouba, Nfaly
Günther, Stephan
Fichet-Calvet, Elisabeth
Date : 27 May 2020
DOI : 10.1080/22221751.2020.1766381
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group, on behalf of Shanghai Shangyixun Cultural Communication Co., Ltd This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
Uncontrolled Keywords : Lassa virus; Mastomys natalensis; Spatial distribution; Cluster analyses; Phylogeny; Guinea; West Africa
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 04 Jun 2020 12:23
Last Modified : 04 Jun 2020 15:07

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