Health: Hantavirus spreads faster and faster - Already over 900 infected patients

Rapid increase in hantavirus infections in southwest Germany

More and more people in Germany are infected with the dangerous hantavirus. Over 900 infections have been reported in the south-west of the Republic this year. But there are ways to protect yourself from infection.

The number of Hantavirus infections has increased significantly

A rapid increase in Hantavirus infections has been registered in Germany in recent months - also in Baden-Württemberg. In the southwestern German state, over 900 people have already contracted this year. The numbers are significantly higher than in the previous year. The risk can be reduced with a few precautionary measures.

More than 900 people infected in Baden-Württemberg

Since the beginning of 2017, a total of 928 people in Baden-Württemberg have been infected with the Hanta virus, which is transmitted among other things by mouse droppings (as of December 12), reports the news agency dpa.

Upon request, the State Health Office in Stuttgart announced that there were only 77 cases in 2016 in the same period.

According to the information, however, the number of new cases has decreased significantly since the beginning of October.

According to the agency announcement, only two cases were submitted in the current and last week.

The disease peaked in mid-May when up to 61 cases were registered weekly.

Disease begins with flu-like symptoms

The dangerous virus can be transmitted by infected animals such as rubella and fire mice or rat rats.

According to experts, the reason for the increase in infections is a strong occurrence of beech nuts in the past year. Due to the good food supply, the red vole in particular had multiplied.

The mouse population is cyclical. Therefore, there are always years with frequent cases of hantaviruses. Infections must be reported.

Hantavirus diseases mostly develop with flu-like symptoms such as fever, limb and headache.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) experts warn in a leaflet that a drop in blood pressure and eventually kidney dysfunction can also lead to acute kidney failure.

Virus transmission via respiratory tract or by smear infections

There you can also learn how to get infected. Hantaviruses are excreted from infected rodents (e.g. mice and rats) and shrews via saliva, urine and faeces.

The transmission to humans takes place either through the respiratory tract or through smear infections on the hands.

"Humans become infected through contact with excretions from infected rodents when contaminated dust is whirled up and the pathogens are inhaled."

No direct contact with the animals is necessary for infection. Infection by bites from infected rodents is also possible, according to the RKI.

However, transmission from person to person and infection via pets or via vectors (for example mosquitoes or ticks) probably do not take place.

This is how you can protect yourself

The RKI also explains how to protect yourself: "You can reduce the risk of a Hantavirus infection by avoiding contact with rodents and their excretions and by taking certain precautions."

According to the experts, this includes “above all preventing rodents from entering the living area and its immediate surroundings.”

These measures should primarily be implemented in known endemic areas if rodent infestation has been identified or if activities are carried out in locations where rodents are expected to occur.

And: "Ventilate rooms with mouse infestation for 30 minutes before cleaning to remove potentially infectious dust particles from the air," the Baden-Württemberg State Health Office wrote in a leaflet.

"If dust cannot be avoided, use a respirator," said the experts.

"Clean wet with a commercially available cleaning agent, wear disposable gloves, do not use a vacuum cleaner or broom."

In addition, thorough hand hygiene should be ensured. (ad)

Author and source information

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