Service d'immunologie-vaccinologie, Faculté de médecine vétérinaire, Université de Liège, Bât. B43 bis, 20, boulevard de Colonster, 4000 Liège, Belgique
Hantaviruses belong to the Bunyaviridae family and are responsible for human diseases called haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Asia and Europe, and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in Americas. Hantaviruses are carried by wild rodents and have been co-evolving with their hosts for millions of years. The genetic diversity among hantaviruses is linked to the specificity of the reservoirs and to their geographical distribution. Host rodents are chronically infected and spread the virus in saliva, urine and faeces. Humans are generally contaminated by inhalation of viral particles from infected material. In Europe, Puumala (PUU) virus is responsible for a mild form of HFRS, called nephropathia epidemica (NE), and Dobrava (DOB) virus causes more severe symptoms that may lead to the death of the patients. Until now, no vaccine against hantaviruses has been available in Europe.