According to information from the hospital technicians, the hantavirus is currently spreading. 26 infections have already been reported in Thuringia alone. The infection is very dangerous and can even result in kidney damage in humans. There is currently no preventive vaccination.
A rubella is only a few centimeters tall - and yet it can be the carrier of a highly dangerous disease: 26 infections with the Hanta virus have been reported in Thuringia alone by the 35th calendar week of this year. The Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) reports this after evaluating the data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Most recently, there were strong increases in statistics in 2010 and 2012 - however, only one case was reported last year.
Symptoms are often unspecific
Hantavirus infections are usually associated with non-specific flu symptoms. In a few cases, however, the infection can progress to kidney damage or even kidney failure.
“Often the reported, mostly severe infections are just the tip of the iceberg. Because of the non-specific symptoms, we assume that there is a high number of unreported infections, ”explains Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Mathias W. Pletz, director of the Center for Infection Medicine and Hospital Hygiene at the University Hospital Jena.
The cause of the transmission is contact with saliva or excrement from infected rodents. Especially in the border areas to Hesse and Bavaria, the virus is found in red vole. The main problem here is dried animal remains, which are also distributed in small parts via the air.
High mouse population due to the mild winter
Shrew and red vole feed among other things on beech nuts, the fruit of the red beech. Their yield was particularly high in 2016, so that the rodents hibernated well and were able to multiply accordingly.
Care should therefore be taken when cleaning places in the house and garden where mice are suspected. Rodents who have died should only be touched with disposable gloves and disposed of in tightly closed containers. “Patients come into contact with the pathogen, for example, when sweeping the garden shed, when dust is whirled up,” explains Pletz. “It is therefore recommended to wet areas before sweeping.”
Vaccination is currently not possible
According to the RKI, an approved vaccine against the hantavirus is not yet available. Only the symptoms can be treated. The most important measures are therefore those that already prevent contact with infected material. However: immunity is assumed after a single infection with the virus.
Hantavirus infections are notifiable according to §7 Paragraph 1 No. 19 IfSG. The current figures for Hantavirus infections can be obtained from the RKI on a country-specific basis. There is also a detailed guide for doctors available. The RKI has also compiled frequently asked questions about hantaviruses in a leaflet.
Univ.-Prof. Pletz interviewed. The internist, pneumologist, infectiologist and hospital hygienist has been director of the Center for Infectious Medicine and Hospital Hygiene at the University Hospital Jena since 2013. Pletz is a board member of the German Society for Infectious Diseases and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Robert Koch Institute.