More and more infections: Rapid increase in Hantavirus diseases

Number of Hantavirus diseases increased significantly in Bavaria
Hantavirus infections have been increasing in Germany since the beginning of the year. The number of diseases has risen sharply compared to the previous year, also in Bavaria. But there are ways to protect yourself from infection.

More and more hantavirus infections
A rapid increase in Hantavirus infections has been registered in Germany in recent months. The numbers are significantly higher than in the previous year. While 282 cases were reported to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) nationwide in 2016, there were already 747 this year by June 21, according to a current report. Bavaria also shows that the number of infections fluctuates from year to year.

Experts anticipate an increasing number of illnesses
Since the beginning of 2017, the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) has "reported a total of 155 cases of hantavirus diseases (data status: 06/26/2017)", says the website of the office.

“In the same period last year there were only 8 cases in Bavaria. It can be assumed that a significant increase in Hantavirus diseases can be expected in 2017, ”write the experts.

Similar clusters also sometimes occurred in earlier years.

Disease begins with flu-like symptoms
The reason for the increase is that the main transmitter of the virus, the rubella, has reproduced particularly well this year thanks to the good food supply in winter and favorable climatic conditions.

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

According to the LGL, hantavirus diseases mostly develop with flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches and headaches.

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.

On its website, LGL Bayern points out that when working in rooms (shed, cellar, attic, garden shed) in which mice live, but also outdoors, e.g. when composting or woodworking, special care is required.

“Dust generation should be avoided during cleaning work by moistening beforehand. If there is visible mouse infestation, gloves and, if necessary, mouth protection should be worn. ”(Ad)

Author and source information

Video: Virology 2015 Lecture #22: Emerging viruses (December 2021).