The hantavirus is currently very active. The number of illnesses has increased throughout Germany. Which regions are particularly affected and how dangerous the pathogen can be for humans.
According to experts, a particularly large number of people could become infected with hantaviruses in certain areas of Germany this year. By mid-June, more than four times more cases were registered in Germany for 2021 than in the entire previous year.
As the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced that around 930 cases have been reported to the authority since January, compared to only 230 in 2020 as a whole.
According to the RKI figures, however, the current trend cannot be compared with the strong hantavirus year 2012 – at that time there had been well over 1,000 reported cases by the middle of the year. In 2012 as a whole, the level was the highest to date with around 2,800 infections. With hantavirus infections, strong fluctuations are common from year to year.
Hantavirus is a generic term that classifies different types of viruses. Hantaviruses are common all over the world. The so-called Puumala virus is particularly common in Central Europe.
The hantavirus is transmitted by rodents such as the bank vole or the fire mouse. The viruses are excreted by infected animals in saliva, urine and feces and can remain infectious for several days. People can become infected by inhaling – for example when doing forest and gardening work.
Infections with the hantavirus are often without symptoms, but can also cause flu-like symptoms – for example fever, Headache and body aches, sometimes nausea and vomiting. The kidneys can also be impaired, leading to acute kidney failure.
The hantavirus has been notifiable in Germany since 2001. One vaccine does not exist yet. Doctors can only treat the symptoms of the sick. It is fatal infection but only very rarely in Central Europe.
Infections with the hantavirus are currently rampant, especially in southwest Germany. Parts of the state of Baden-Württemberg are particularly affected, followed by Bavaria.
In order to protect themselves, according to experts, people should avoid contact with excretions from rodents and dust containing pathogens, especially in areas with a lot of beech forest – for example when doing woodwork in forests and gardens and when cleaning cellars, sheds, barns and stables.
Who dead Mice or remove mouse droppings, rubber gloves and close-fitting mouth and nose protection should be worn. You shouldn’t use a vacuum cleaner because it could spread viruses into the air. Thorough hygiene is also important: careful hand washing and even better – showering and washing hair after cleaning work.
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