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The aim of the interdisciplinary RoBoPub joint project is to create the necessary knowledge base on the epidemiology of two rodent-transmitted zoonotic agents, hantaviruses and leptospiruses, and to translate the knowledge gained into public health measures.

Object of the research

Hantaviruses and leptospires will be investigated in parallel in the joint project because there are similarities in reservoirs, transmission pathways and the diseases they cause and their symptoms. Further parallels can be seen in the seasonality of their occurrence, the seroprevalence in risk groups and underreporting as well as the awareness of office-based physicians. This leads to the expectation of a large number of synergies in joint treatment and in the resulting prevention measures. Within the framework of this synergistic OneHealth initiative, the pathogen, rodent and environmental aspects of pathogen transmission as well as the manifestation and diagnosis of human disease will be investigated.


The knowledge gained in the network is to be transferred to the preparation of a risk assessment and the development of hazard maps, early warning modules, risk management plans and health recommendations and their dissemination to the population and particularly affected groups of people, involving the public health service and veterinary and human medicine.


Aim 1: Spatial distribution and temporal variation of Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) in redback mouse populations and Leptospira kirschneri in field and redback mouse populations

Aim 2: Tenacity, virulence and host adaptation of PUUV and Leptospira spp.

Aim 3: PUUV and Leptospira seroprevalence in different human cohorts, and their association with risk factors

Aim 4: Identify ecological factors and models for pathogen prevalence/incidence.

Aim 5: Sensitization of general practitioners and risk perception in risk groups and in the general population.

Aim 6: OneHealth approach: Translating the knowledge gained on the epidemiology of pathogens into public health interventions.

Main areas of work

The processing is divided into the following main areas of work (AS):

AS1 Pathogen geography

In AS1, the mapping of the current distribution and the assessment of a potential further spread of PUUV in the western genetic line's redback mouse populations will be carried out by studying redback mice along transects through Lower Saxony/North Rhine-Westphalia and through Thuringia. Furthermore, the geographical distribution of Leptospira kirschneri in field mice of different locations in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia will be investigated.

AS2 Stability and host association

For both pathogens, studies on the stability of strains/isolates and samples from the environment as well as experimental virulence identification and studies on the susceptibility of cell lines of different genetic bank vole lines to PUUV will be performed.

AS3 Epidemiology

The reservoir and pathogen studies in AS1 and AS2 will be flanked by studies on the prevalence of PUUV (and possibly other hantaviruses) and Leptospira in the general population and in risk groups, i.e. forest workers and strawberry pickers. In addition to the investigation of seroprevalence, these studies focus on the association of serostatus with risk factors and the knowledge and application of prevention measures. Furthermore, information on the proportion of asymptomatic as well as possibly symptomatic but not correctly diagnosed diseases will be collected.

AS4 Models und Host dynamics

In AS4, the results of field and in vitro studies will be translated into an early warning model for outbreaks in bank vole or field mouse populations and early warning modules for the clustering of human PUUV and leptospiral infections will be developed.

AS5 Risk perception and awareness raising

The predictive power of comprehensive modelling approaches is increasingly improving. They can therefore be used to identify future endemic areas. In these new and emerging areas for hantavirus and leptospirosis diseases, expert interviews with general practitioners, public health services and stakeholders will be conducted based on guidelines. Focus group discussions with the general population will be conducted in existing and emerging endemic areas. Based on the knowledge gained, suitable risk communication strategies for the general population and general practitioners will be developed.

AS6 Public health translation

AS6 transfers the results of all other ASs into risk maps, early warning modules and a risk management plan for the ÖGD at local, state and federal level. During the three-year funding period, the prototypes for risk maps and early warning modules will be created, as well as the concept for the plan. Throughout the entire project period, all sub-projects will be interacted with in order to communicate the findings obtained to decision-makers, interest groups, risk groups, general practitioners and the general population in an appropriate and timely manner, with the involvement of the ÖGD.

Recent information (German)

Aktuelle Kurznachricht des FLI zur Hantavirus-Situation in Deutschland (03.06.2019)
Die an RoBoPub beteiligten Hantavirus-Gruppen waren an der Aktualisierung des Merkblattes „Wie vermeide ich Hantavirusinfektionen?“ beteiligt.
Darüber hinaus wurde von den Hantavirus-Gruppen ein Übersichtsartikel zu Hantaviren veröffentlicht.
Das Niedersächsische Landesgesundheitsamt stellt regelmäßig aktualisierte interaktive Abbildungen zur zeitlichen Entwicklung und geografischen Verteilung der Hantavirus- und Leptospiren-Meldefälle in Niedersachsen zur Verfügung. Die Abbildungen können Sie hier abrufen.


PD Dr. Rainer G. Ulrich

Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), Institute of Novel and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Greifswald - Island of Riems
E-Mail: rainer.ulrich(at)
Telefon: +49 (0) 3835 17 1159

Dr. Johannes Dreesman

Lower Saxony State Health Office (NLGA), Roesebeckstrasse 4-6, 30449 Hannover
E-Mail: johannes.dreesman(at)
Telefon: +49 (0) 511 4505 200


The work on the individual focal points is carried out in close cooperation with the various sub-projects (TV).
List of the subproject leaders

TV1     Rainer G. Ulrich, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI)

TV2     Anne Mayer-Scholl, Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR)

TV3     Jens Jacob, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI)

TV4     Martin Runge, Niedersächsisches Landesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (LAVES)

TV5     Sabrina Weiß, Universitätsmedizin Charité Campus Mitte (CCM) und Prof. Jörg Hofmann, Nationales Konsiliarlaboratorium für Hantaviren

TV6     Martin Pfeffer, Institut für Tierhygiene und Öffentliches Veterinärwesen, Universität Leipzig (UL)

TV7     Kerstin Dressel, Süddeutsches Institut für empirische Sozialforschung (SINE)

TV8     Johannes Dreesman, Niedersächsisches Landesgesundheitsamt (NLGA)

Two ÖGD projects in Baden-Württemberg funded by the Zoonotic Infectious Diseases Research Network are in close contact with the RoBoPub consortium and will be supported by the hantavirus groups in the RoBoPub consortium.

A networking project between the RoBoPub consortium and the consortia ZooBoCo, Q-Gaps and TBENAGER shall enable a synergistic processing of all collected small mammalian samples and thus enable an evaluation of the distribution of the individual zoonotic agents beyond the individual consortia.