To elucidate the mode of transmission of Puumala-related hantavirus in a population of gray red-backed voles, Clethrionomys rufocanus bedfordiae, in Hokkaido, Japan, we analyzed the kin structure and dispersal patterns of individual voles using microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA markers. Siblings or dam/offsprings was identified within the population based on the relatedness calculation with the microsatellite data. The pairwise relatedness values obtained could reveal kinship among all vole individuals within the population. Based on the assessment of kinship, we did not find a positive relationship between hantavirus transmission and close kinship. Males infected with the hantavirus carried a relatively uncommon mitochondrial haplotype. However, these infected males shared low relatedness values and were not considered closely related, i.e., they were not siblings or parent/offspring. These observations imply that hantavirus transmission in the vole population may not be related to close kinship but by random horizontal infection.
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