MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Study presents facts about record incidence of hantavirus in Germany

A team of researchers recently presented facts about hantavirus disease, a disease that caused 2,824 cases in Germany last year, in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.

Germany experiences large outbreaks of hantavirus disease every two to three years, but last year's total marked the highest number of cases ever reported in a single year. Hantavirus disease is caused by either the Puumala virus or the Dobrava-Belgrad virus.

Detlev Kruger, the director of the Charité Institute for Medical Virology, and his coauthors explained how the disease spreads in Germany. In the southwest and western parts of Germany, the Puumala virus is transmitted to humans by bank voles. In the north and east parts of Germany, striped field mice transmit the Dobrava-Belgrad virus to humans.

Symptoms of hantavirus come in several stages. The first stage is an otherwise unexplained high fever, which may be followed by shock, renal failure and pulmonary failure, depending on how severe the disease is.

The authors of the study said that whenever individuals living in high-risk areas present with unexplained fever or renal failure, doctors should consider the possibility of a hantavirus infection. Hospitals can then use special techniques to precisely evaluate whether or not the virus is present.