Tularemia Outbreaks and Common Vole (Microtus arvalis) Irruptive Population Dynamics in Northwestern Spain, 1997-2014

Juan José Luque-Larena, François Mougeot, Dolors Vidal Roig, Xavier Lambin, Ruth Rodríguez-Pastor, Elena Rodríguez-Valín, Pedro Anda, Raquel Escudero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


During the last decades, large tularemia outbreaks in humans have coincided in time and space with population outbreaks of common voles in northwestern Spain, leading us to hypothesize that this rodent species acts as a key spillover agent of Francisella tularensis in the region. Here, we evaluate for the first time a potential link between irruptive vole numbers and human tularemia outbreaks in Spain. We compiled vole abundance estimates obtained through live-trapping monitoring studies and official reports of human tularemia cases during the period 1997-2014. We confirm a significant positive association between yearly cases of tularemia infection in humans and vole abundance. High vole densities during outbreaks (up to 1000 voles/hectare) may therefore enhance disease transmission and spillover contamination in the environment. If this ecological link is further confirmed, the apparent multiannual cyclicity of common vole outbreaks might provide a basis for forecasting the risk of tularemia outbreaks in northwestern Spain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-570
Number of pages3
JournalVector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number9
Early online date2 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2015


  • Tularemia
  • Francisella tularensis
  • common vole
  • Microtus arvalis
  • outbreaks
  • Spain


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