Hantaviruses can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in the Americas and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Eurasia. In recent decades, repeated outbreaks of hantavirus disease have led to public concern and have created a global public health burden. Hantavirus spillover from natural hosts into human populations could be considered an ecological process, in which environmental forces, behavioral determinants of exposure, and dynamics at the human–animal interface affect human susceptibility and the epidemiology of the disease. In this review, we summarize the progress made in understanding hantavirus epidemiology and rodent reservoir population biology. We mainly focus on three species of rodent hosts with longitudinal studies of sufficient scale: the striped field mouse (Apodemus agrarius, the main reservoir host for Hantaan virus [HTNV], which causes HFRS) in Asia, the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus, the main reservoir host for Sin Nombre virus [SNV], which causes HPS) in North America, and the bank vole (Myodes glareolus, the main reservoir host for Puumala virus [PUUV], which causes HFRS) in Europe. Moreover, we discuss the influence of ecological factors on human hantavirus disease outbreaks and provide an overview of research perspectives.
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