Certain types of hantavirus are the cause of lung diseases, acute renal failure (nephrotic syndrome) or severe hemorrhagic fever. These viruses are spread worldwide and can also be found in Germany – where an infection with hantaviruses has been notifiable since 2001.
MICE – THE CARRIERS OF HANTAVIRUSES
Transmission with hantaviruses takes place via various rodents, in Germany especially via the bank vole – whereas southern Germany (Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony, Thuringia) used to be the main romping ground for the carriers of hantaviruses, since 2004 there has also been talk of spreading the virus to the rest of Germany (with an increasing tendency). Just like the bank vole in Germany, in America the deer mouse is held responsible for the transmission of diseases caused by hantaviruses.
DISEASE CAUSED BY HANTAVIRUSES: SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS
For the rodents themselves, hantaviruses are rather harmless; they influence the health status of the animals at best only to a small extent – transmission usually takes place from mouse to mouse. Here, the social behavior of the rodents plays a central role – only some mice are considered to be carriers of hantaviruses.
Flu-like symptoms are typical for a disease – a correct diagnosis is thus considerably more difficult and can only be made by a physician. The incubation period of such a disease with hantaviruses is usually 12 to 21 days. An antibody test in serum within 8 – 14 days after infection (IgM and IgG) finally determines whether the disease is actually caused by hantaviruses.
According to the latest studies, only some of the animals act as a virus slingshot – the number of diseased mice is therefore to be regarded as rather small and is over two percent; on the other hand, in some areas it is quite possible that up to 40 percent of deer mice are infected with hantaviruses. The reason: Hantaviruses are only transmitted by (a few) older animals; where conditions allow a high life expectancy for these mice, a higher infestation can be observed.
HOW CAN HUMANS PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM HANTAVIRUSES?
What to do: It is best to take measures at an early stage (i.e. at the beginning of the year) so that the mice do not even feel comfortable in their home garden. However, if the suspicion has already been confirmed and the rodents are multiplying there, action is called for. The A.S.S. Pest Control from Munich and Rosenheim takes professional and effective action against the unpleasant pests with its rodent control in Bavaria.