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Rodent-borne viruses such as orthohantaviruses and arenaviruses cause considerable disease burden with regional and temporal differences in incidence and clinical awareness. Therefore, it is important to regularly evaluate laboratory diagnostic capabilities, e.g. by external quality assessments (EQA).


We wished to evaluate the performance and diagnostic capability of European expert laboratories to detect orthohantaviruses and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and human antibody response towards orthohantaviruses.


We conducted an EQA in 2021; molecular panels consisted of 12 samples, including different orthohantaviruses (Seoul, Dobrava-Belgrade (DOBV), Puumala (PUUV) and Hantaan orthohantavirus), LCMV and negative controls. Serological panels consisted of six human serum samples reactive to PUUV, DOBV or negative to orthohantaviruses. The EQA was sent to 25 laboratories in 20 countries.


The accuracy of molecular detection of orthohantaviruses varied (50‒67%, average 62%) among 16 participating laboratories, while LCMV samples were successfully detected in all 11 participating laboratories (91-100%, average 96%). The accuracy of serological diagnosis of acute and past orthohantavirus infections was on average 95% among 20 participating laboratories and 82% in 19 laboratories, respectively. A variety of methods was used, with predominance of in-house assays for molecular tests, and commercial assays for serological ones.


Serology, the most common tool to diagnose acute orthohantavirus infections, had a high accuracy in this EQA. The molecular detection of orthohantaviruses needs improvement while LCMV detection (performed in fewer laboratories) had 95% accuracy. Further EQAs are recommended to be performed periodically to monitor improvements and challenges in the diagnostics of rodent–borne diseases.


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