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Hantavirus: infectious disease on the rise

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The hantavirus continues to spread in Germany, warn physicians. The infectious disease has flu-like symptoms – but can also be fatal.

Beware of hantavirus! Also in 2019, the dreaded virus spreads strongly. “2019 is clearly an outbreak year,” quoted the “Kieler Nachrichten” after a dpa request Mirko Faber, a scientist at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin (RKI).

From early 2019 to June, the institute reported almost 500 cases. Particularly affected: the Swabian Alb, the areas Stuttgart and Osnabrück, Lower Franconia, the Bavarian Forest, the east of Hesse, the west of Thuringia and the Münsterland.

As bad as the “Hantajahr” 2012 will probably not this year, but experts warn caution.

How does Hantavirus spread?

The hantavirus is transmitted by rodents, in particular by red chickens, but also by fire and yellow-necked mice. In the years in which the population increases through the food supply, there is usually also an increased number of hantavirus diseases. This year, the good yield of the beech is responsible, which serves the rodents as food. The hantaviruses themselves are in the mouse’s gut. But how do we infect ourselves?

Quite simply: we inhale the dust that contains the pathogen. And we also get infected with the disease via mouse bites. For prevention purposes, we should avoid contact with excreta, especially in areas with many beech trees, such as woodwork, barn cleaning , garages, sheds, stables, attics and basements. Who does not want to take the cleaning, should moisten the dust before.

Which symptoms should make me sit up?

Normally, the first symptoms appear about two to four weeks after infection. According to RKI, the infection initially causes flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • fever
  • Headaches, abdominal and back pain
  • to cough
  • Redness of the throat
  • diarrhea
  • Vomit

But also blood pressure drop and renal dysfunction may occur, which show up in the form of circulatory disorders. To determine that it really is the hantavirus, the doctor must do a blood test. Blood in the urine is also typical, as the viruses can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys. In the worst case, the infectious disease can lead to kidney failure, but rarely does the disease end in this country deadly.

Unfortunately, there is still no drug against the virus, only the complaints can be alleviated by the right medicines.