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Hantavirus in Germany (Baden-Wuerttemberg)

27 May 2019

Public health authorities in Baden-Wuerttemberg report an increase in cases of hantavirus disease from 01 January 2019 to 15 May 2019. During this period, there have been 211 cases in the north, centre and south of the state, compared to 12 cases in the same period in 2018. Increases are known to occur in years when the population of bank voles grows due to increased food supply.

Spring cleaning garages, cellars and sheds is associated with hantavirus infection in Germany.

Advice to travellers

The risk to most travellers is low. Risk is increased in those living or working close to rural  forested areas/rodent infested buildings (including cleaning garages, cellars and sheds); campers, agricultural workers, building workers, soldiers are among those most likely to be exposed.

  • Travellers at risk should be advised of the risk of infection and take steps to minimise exposure to rodent excreta.
  • Protective clothing including face masks and ensuring adequate ventilation should be used when working in environments which may be contaminated with rodent faeces and urine.
  • Accomodation that has been out of use for many months should be well ventilated prior to entry.

Hantavirus can cause serious illness in some cases. Headache, fever, influenza-like symptoms, rash back pain and kidney damage may occur. There is no licensed vaccine in Europe.