Infection of wild-caught wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) and yellow-necked mice (A. flavicollis) with tick-borne encephalitis virus

Julian W. Bakker*, Emily L. Pascoe, Sandra van de Water, Lucien van Keulen, Ankje de Vries, Lianne C. Woudstra, Helen J. Esser, Gorben P. Pijlman, Willem F. de Boer, Hein Sprong, Jeroen Kortekaas, Paul J. Wichgers Schreur, Constantianus J.M. Koenraadt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The distribution of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is expanding to Western European countries, including the Netherlands, but the contribution of different rodent species to the transmission of TBEV is poorly understood. We investigated whether two species of wild rodents native to the Netherlands, the wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus and the yellow-necked mouse Apodemus flavicollis, differ in their relative susceptibility to experimental infection with TBEV. Wild-caught individuals were inoculated subcutaneously with the classical European subtype of TBEV (Neudoerfl) or with TBEV-NL, a genetically divergent TBEV strain from the Netherlands. Mice were euthanised and necropsied between 3 and 21 days post-inoculation. None of the mice showed clinical signs or died during the experimental period. Nevertheless, TBEV RNA was detected up to 21 days in the blood of both mouse species and TBEV was also isolated from the brain of some mice. Moreover, no differences in infection rates between virus strains and mouse species were found in blood, spleen, or liver samples. Our results suggest that the wood mouse and the yellow-necked mouse may equally contribute to the transmission cycle of TBEV in the Netherlands. Future experimental infection studies that include feeding ticks will help elucidate the relative importance of viraemic transmission in the epidemiology of TBEV.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21627
JournalScientific Reports
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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