Puumala virus (PUUV, carried by ) co-circulates with Seewis virus (SWSV, carried by ) in Finland. While PUUV causes 1000–3000 nephropathia epidemica (NE) cases annually, the pathogenicity of SWSV to man is unknown. To study the prevalence of SWSV antibodies in hantavirus fever-like patients' sera, we used recombinant SWSV nucleocapsid (N) protein as the antigen in ELISA, immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and immunoblotting. While characterizing the recombinant SWSV N protein, we observed that a polyclonal rabbit antiserum against PUUV N protein cross-reacted with SWSV N protein and vice versa. We initially screened 486 (450 PUUV-seronegative and 36 PUUV-seropositive) samples sent to Helsinki University Hospital Laboratory for PUUV serodiagnosis during 2002 and 2007 in an SWSV N protein IgG ELISA. In total, 4.2  % (19/450) of the PUUV-seronegative samples were reactive in the SWSV N protein IgG ELISA and none of the tested samples [43 PUUV-seronegative (weakly reactive in the SWSV IgG ELISA) and 15 random] were reactive in the SWSV N protein IgM ELISA. None of the IgG reactions could be confirmed by IFA or immunoblotting. Furthermore, among the 36 PUUV-seropositive samples three were reactive in SWSV N protein IgG and ten in SWSV N protein IgM ELISA. One PUUV-seropositive sample reacted with SWSV N protein in IFA and four in immunoblotting. Finally, we applied competitive ELISA to confirm that the observed reactivity was due to cross-reactivity rather than a true SWSV response. In conclusion, no evidence of SWSV infection was found among the 486 samples studied; however, we did demonstrate that PUUV antiserum cross-reacted with shrew-borne hantavirus N protein.


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