Genetic characterization of seoul hantavirus originated from norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) captured in Belgium.
Hantaviruses (genus Hantavirus, family Bunyaviridae) cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Eurasia and hantavirus (cardio)pulmonary syndrome (HCPS) in the Americas. So far, in Europe, four pathogenic hantaviruses have been found, often in co-circulation: Puumala virus (PUUV), Dobrava virus (DOBV), Saaremaa virus (SAAV), and Seoul virus (SEOV). Of those, only PUUV was found in Belgium. Recently, in our search for hantaviruses in the Flanders region of Belgium we collected genetic and serological evidence for the presence of SEOV virus in local brown rats. In this article, the results of (phylo)genetic analysis of wild-type SEOV strain from the Flanders are presented. The analysis based on the complete S segment sequence and also partial M- and L-segment sequences revealed that the Belgian SEOV strain was related most closely to strains from France, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Cambodia (those associated with the species Rattus norvegicus) and Vietnam. Such a clustering was in perfect agreement with the results of direct sequence comparison and suggested the same evolutionary history for all three genome segments of the Belgian SEOV strain (i.e., no reassortment of genome segments). So far, SEOV has been found in two European countries, France and Belgium, and there is every reason to believe that the area of the virus distribution in Europe is not restricted to those countries. J. Med. Virol. 84: 1298-1303, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.