Hantavirus infection is a significant global public health problem that can manifest as hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) with case-fatality rate of 12% or hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) with case-fatality rate of up to 60%. Due to the often severe disease and absence of vaccines or specific treatment, effective community-based prevention programs in endemic areas are critical. As a rodent-borne infection, transmission has been associated with occupational exposure, visiting rural areas, and domestic activities. However, information is still lacking on how the human element, specifically, how specific behaviors, perception of risk, and living conditions, as well as small-scale landscape composition influence infection. This information will enhance current interventions and prospects for control. The long term goal of our research program is to elucidate the mechanisms associated with the emergence and maintenance of zoonosis, as well as the most effective options for control. This research will be done as an extension of NSF-EID Grant No. 0913570 entitled "Eco-epidemiology of Leptospirosis in Latin America: Understanding the Dynamics of Transmission within a Community". The Objective of the study proposed here is to improve the knowledge on the combined effects of sociological and ecological factors on hantavirus occurrence. The Objective will be accomplished by pursuing the following Specific Aims: 1) To identify and quantify the socio-ecological elements that regulate the epidemiology of endemic hantavirus infection in different community types, and 2) To identify the determinants of spatial patterns of hantavirus infection in different community types. The proposed study will take advantage of the extensive field work and effort that is being done for the existing NSF grant including collection of samples and data from the field studies in three types of socio-ecologically distinct communities and will quantify the risk of human infection, while taking into consideration environmental and socio-economic conditions unique to each household. Expected outcomes include a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental sociological and environmental drivers of transmission risk and improved knowledge of the importance of infection at the household level and in non-traditional risk groups. This information is critical t advance the field of hantavirus research and promotion of risk behavioral change. Results will be largely applicable to prevention programs in the U.S. and other countries. This proposal contributes to the NIH mission by providing recommendations for control of an infection that presents a significant public health threat.


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