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Increased hantavirus infections in Baden-Württemberg
Hantavirus infections are increasing in Baden-Württemberg. "After the" Hanta years "2007 with a total of 1,090 cases and 2010 with 998 cases, 2010 is a new record year," said Health Minister Katrin Altpeter. "In warm, dry weather, the wave of infections is expected to continue over the next few weeks." Since the beginning of 2012, 849 hantavirus infections have been reported across the country. 69 of them fall on the last week alone.
Hantavirus infection Flu-like symptoms Usually, a Hantavirus infection is flu-like. After an incubation period of 12 to 21 days before the onset of the disease, symptoms usually appear such as very high fever, headache, back pain, abdominal pain and minor bleeding (petechiae). In acute cases, reduced urine excretion (oliguria) with "arterial hypertension" can occur, which can lead to the failure of one or both kidneys. In some rare cases, pulmonary edema also occurs. Anyone who sees signs of the symptoms described should immediately consult a doctor. In about half of the reported hantvirus infections, hospital treatment is necessary.
The Hantavirus was named after a river (Hanta River) in Korea. The virus became known worldwide after thousands of UN soldiers fell ill during the Korean War in the 1950s. The virus has now spread worldwide.
Hantavirus is transmitted by a number of rubella mice. The pathogen is in their faeces, urine and saliva. If a person inhales dust containing pathogens, an infection can occur. This year, the red vole population is particularly large due to the abundant supply of beech nuts last autumn. These are the main source of food for red vole. For this reason, areas with a high proportion of beech forest are particularly affected by hantavirus infections, such as on the Swabian Alp. The districts of Göppingen, Reutlingen, Sigmaringen, Heidenheim and Tübingen have the highest rates of new cases.
"Anyone who wants to prevent Hantavirus infection should avoid contact with rodent excretions," explains the Minister of Health. There is currently no vaccination against the Hanta virus. Altpeter emphasized that parents should not especially worry about their children. "Children are rarely affected by Hantavirus diseases". Since the obligation to report hantvirus infections began in 2001 in Baden-Württemberg, only 51 cases in children up to 14 years and only one case in a child up to six years have been found. Parents could therefore continue to take walks or hikes with their children on designated forest and field trails. To protect against ticks, however, tall grass and the undergrowth should be avoided.
There is an increased risk of contracting a Hantavirus infection, for example, when doing work such as repositioning wood piles and cleaning, tidying up and relocating in attics, in garages, cellars, as well as garden sheds and sheds. If there are rodents in the immediate vicinity, they should be controlled by a specialist and appropriate measures taken against the intrusion of the animals. Food and their leftovers should be stowed away well. Certain professions have an increased risk of hantavirus infection. This includes employees in agriculture, forestry and construction. Experts advise before cleaning work to moisten the dust to bind it. The surfaces should also be sprayed with a disinfectant. Dust masks can also be helpful. (ag)
Read also about Hantavirus:
Increase in hantavirus infections
Spread of Hantaviruses
Image: Peter Freitag / pixelio.de