A particularly large number of cases in 2017: More and more hantavirus diseases

Lower Saxony: The number of Hantavirus diseases increased sharply
There is currently an increased risk of Hantaviurs infections in various regions of Germany. According to experts, the number of diseases has risen sharply compared to the previous year, also in Lower Saxony. Most of the cases there were mainly registered in a district.

Significantly more Hantavirus infections
There has been a rapid increase in hantavirus infections in recent months. The numbers are significantly higher than in the previous year. While the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 282 cases nationwide in 2016, there were already 607 this year by mid-May. The fact that the number of infections fluctuates from year to year is also evident in Lower Saxony.

Experts anticipate increasing numbers
The number of Hantavirus diseases in Lower Saxony has risen sharply this year compared to the previous year, reports the news agency dpa.

While there were 17 registered cases there last year, there were 57 cases in 2017 by the end of last week, said the spokesman for the Lower Saxony State Health Office (NLGA) in Hanover, Holger Scharlach.

According to the information, 41 of the 57 registered cases were reported from the Osnabrück district. This was mainly affected in the previous years.

"It can be assumed that the number of cases will increase this year," said the spokesman.

Viruses are mainly transmitted via the veal feces
"The increased number of cases results from an increased mouse density in the so-called fattening years of beech and oak, the fruits of which are the food basis for the rubella," writes the NLGA on its website.

The viruses are excreted by infected rodents, especially the vole, through saliva, faeces and urine. The transmission to humans takes place either via the respiratory tract or by smear infections.

"A transmission from person to person and infection via pets or vectors (e.g. mosquitoes or ticks) has not been scientifically proven," says the NLGA.

Infection can take a severe course
The pathogens common in this country cause flu-like symptoms when infected, with high fever, headache, abdominal pain and back pain, reports the RKI.

If such symptoms appear, it is best to consult a doctor.

In a further course, a drop in blood pressure and finally kidney dysfunction can also lead to acute kidney failure, the experts warn in a leaflet.

However, fatalities are rather rare among the European Hantavirus types, in contrast to the virus variants that are common in North and South America.

How to 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.

Since gardening, dusting outdoors or in garages and sheds are the main risks of infection, Gerhard Bojara, head of the health service for the district and city of Osnabrück, advises in a message:

“Good hand hygiene is crucial. After the above activities, the hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water. ”

Rubber gloves should always be worn when removing mouse excrement or dead mice. Close-fitting mouth-nose protection is advisable for all activities that involve dust.

It is also recommended that the device is cleaned with a damp cloth to prevent dust from developing.

The experts point out that the use of vacuum cleaners can even exacerbate the problem because the filters in the vacuum cleaners are not sufficient to prevent viruses. This is how the dust containing viruses can be whirled up and inhaled. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Infectious Diseases and Climate Change - Manuel Castro, MD (January 2022).