What is it about?

Russia has a number of historical foci of zoonotic anthropogenic diseases. In Central Russia, the Republic of Mordovia is one of such areas, a region being known to have foci of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and tularemia. It therefore requires continuous monitoring. The role of small terrestrial mammals as reservoirs of zoonoses has been previously proven for the region. The aim of this work is to take an integrated approach to assess the role of terrestrial and subterranean small mammals. Subterranean mammals are often not considered important reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens that cause human morbidity. Among small mammals in the wild environment, the bank vole, the yellow-necked mouse and the house mouse play important roles as vectors of zoonoses. Among wild subterranean mammals, the greater mole rat is important as a vector of tularemia and HFRS. We analyzed homogenized internal organs of these animals (lungs, spleen, kidneys).

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Why is it important?

Of all samples from the greater mole rat, 83% were positive for tularemia antigens and 17% were positive forHFRS. None of the analyzed European moles had antigens of tularemia and HFRS. No double infection with both tularemia and hantavirus was detected in the subterranean mammals. Double infection was found among terrestrial mammals in the bank vole and the forest dormouse.


There are different groups of animals in the region in terms of their susceptibilityto zoonotic infections; however, only a few species may be important reservoirs. Ourresults show that among small terrestrial mammals in Mordovia, the bank vole, the yellow-necked mouse and the house mouse play an important role in transmission of zoonoticdiseases. We found a positive relationship between relative abundance of small mammalsand morbidity inthe human population. Among subterranean mammals, tularemia andHFRS were carried only by greater mole rats; European moles were free of these pathogens.

Alexey Andreychev

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This page is a summary of: Terrestrial and Subterranean Mammals as Reservoirs of Zoonotic Diseases in the Central Part of European Russia, Diversity, December 2022, MDPI AG,
DOI: 10.3390/d15010039.
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