Finland has the highest incidence of hantavirus infections globally, with a significant impact on public health. The large coverage of boreal forests and the cyclic dynamics of the dominant forest rodent species, the bank vole Myodes glareolus,
explain most of this. We review the relationships between Puumala hantavirus (PUUV), its host rodent, and the hantavirus disease, nephropathia epidemica (NE), in Finland. We describe the history of NE and its diagnostic research in Finland, the seasonal and multiannual cyclic dynamics of PUUV in bank voles impacting human epidemiology, and we compare our northern epidemiological patterns with those in temperate Europe. The long survival of PUUV outside the host and the life-long shedding of PUUV by the bank voles are highlighted. In humans, the infection has unique features in pathobiology but rarely long-term consequences. NE is affected by specific host genetics and risk behavior (smoking), and certain biomarkers can predict the outcome. Unlike many other hantaviruses, PUUV causes a relatively mild disease and is rarely fatal. Reinfections do not exist. Antiviral therapy is complicated by the fact that when symptoms appear, the patient already has a generalized infection. Blocking vascular leakage measures counteracting pathobiology, offer a real therapeutic approach.
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