A retrospective serological and genetic study of hantaviruses responsible for hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Greece during the last 17 years is presented. Fifty-one serum samples taken from 30 HFRS cases previously diagnosed by immunofluorescence assay were tested by ELISA for IgG (Hantaan, Dobrava, and Puumala) and IgM antibodies (Hantaan and Puumala). Results were compatible with the majority of infections being related to hantaviruses carried by rodents of the subfamily Murinae. RNA was extracted from 26 selected samples and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was performed using primers specifically designed for the detection of hanta-viruses associated with murine (MS-N-specific, MM-G1-specific primers) or arvicoline rodents (PPT-N-specific primers). In addition, primers previously designed for the detection of the G2 coding region of the Murine-associated hanta-viruses were also used. Sequencing of the PCR products was then performed, followed by phylogenetic analysis of nucleotide sequence differences. Eleven out of the 26 serum samples tested were found to be positive by PCR with the MS-N primers, whereas four were positive with the MM-G1 primers, and only two with the G2 primers. None of the samples was found positive with the PPT primers. The sequence analysis showed that the virus that was responsible for these 11 HFRS cases was the Dobrava virus, which is endemic throughout the Balkans.
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