Spread of Hantaviruses

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Spread of hantaviruses observed in Hesse.

(04.08.2010) According to the Berlin-based Robert Koch Institute (RKI), "Hantaviruses" are currently spreading in the state of Hesse. The cause of the virus is believed to be the rapid multiplication of mice that distribute the hantavirus via excretions.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, 83 people in Hesse have been infected with the Hanta virus since the beginning of the year. Most cases were registered in East and Central Hesse. For comparison: Last year, just four people in Hesse infected themselves with the virus, which is dangerous for human health. Nationwide, according to the RKI, 1148 people contracted the Hanta virus by the end of July 2010. Since the disease can also lead to death, it is subject to notification. However, no deaths have been recorded so far this year.

The cause of the spread of the virus is the current proliferation of mice. In Germany, the rubella primarily transmits the virus. Other rodents can also transmit the virus. Mice do not get the virus themselves, but excrete it again. The viruses then preferably collect in dusty cellars. The infection is not only caused by direct skin contact with the dust, but when you inhale the virus-containing dust. Plentiful beech trees and a firm blanket of snow during the last winter protected the mice from frost and natural enemies.

The incubation period before the onset of Hantavirus disease is 12 to 21 days. The virus can cause symptoms such as very high fever, headache, back pain, abdominal pain and minor bleeding (petechiae). An acute illness can lead to reduced urine excretion (oliguria) with "arterial hypertension" or even to the failure of one or both kidneys. Pulmonary edema rarely occurs. If signs of the described symptoms appear, patients should see a doctor immediately. Human-to-human transmission is not possible.

The Hantavirus has been named after a river (Hanta River) in Korea. The virus became known worldwide after thousands of UN soldiers fell ill in the 1950s during the Korean War. The virus has now spread worldwide.

Prevention prevents the spread of the hantavirus.
Prevention is the most important because vaccination against hantaviruses does not currently exist and specific treatment is not possible. There is a particularly high risk of infection where there are many mice. The transmitters are often in attics, sheds and basements. However, panic is unfounded, since not every mouse transmits the virus. The risk of illness can be reduced with simple and sensible hygiene measures. Basements, attics and sheds should be ventilated regularly before entering the room. The rooms should also be cleaned regularly. Gloves and a face mask should be worn. When cleaning, it is recommended to stir up as little dust as possible. After cleaning the rooms, you should wash yourself thoroughly. (sb)

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