Research for infection protection
enveloped viruses

Hantavirus
(enveloped virus)

 

 

These viruses have glycoproteins on their envelope, which are potential targets for external influences.

What are hantaviruses?

Hantaviruses are a family of viruses within the order Bunyavirales and belong to the family of Hantaviridae. Hantaviruses are enveloped viruses with a mostly helical shape. Since hantaviruses are enveloped viruses, a disinfectant with virucidal activity against enveloped viruses is sufficient for disinfection.

Hantaviruses take their name from the South Korean river Hantan, in the area of which hantaviruses were first identified and described in the 1970s. Hantaviruses are widespread worldwide, but there are different types of viruses that occur in different regions. The most common representatives include the Hantaan virus (HTNV), the Puumala virus (PUUV), the Dobrava-Belgrade virus (DOBV), the Sin Nombre virus (SNV), the Andes virus (ANDV) and the Seoul virus (SEOV).

In 2020, an autochthonous infection with Seoul virus was observed in Germany for the first time. In this specific case, the representative of the hantaviruses was transmitted to its owner via a pet rat.

Infections with hantaviruses have been reportable in Germany since 2001, as well as in many other European countries. Thus, the data on the frequency of infections is good. Infections with hantaviruses are linked to the regional occurrence of rodent species. Particularly high numbers of infections are recorded in Sweden and Finland.

 

How are hantaviruses transmitted to humans?

Hantaviruses, which are prevalent in Asia and Europe, are transmitted to humans via the saliva, urine or faeces of infected rodents. The pathogen can also remain infectious for several days in a dried state and enter the lungs, for example, via aerosols (e.g. blown-up dust). Infections can also occur through injured skin (contact with infectious material) or through bites. Transmission from human to human does not occur. Each species of hantavirus has its own preferred host. In Central Europe, for example, the bank vole is the preferred host of the Puumala virus. The Puumala virus was first described in the Finnish city of Puumala, which is how it got its name.

 

Which clinical pictures can be caused by hantaviruses?

 Infections with hantaviruses usually run their course without symptoms or with unspecific symptoms. The severity of the symptoms depends on which representative of the hantaviruses triggers the disease, because hantaviruses can cause different clinical pictures. A severe infection with hantaviruses can trigger endothelial cell damage, which can be accompanied by coagulation disorders in the lungs and kidneys.

The hantaviruses prevalent in Europe trigger a disease of the kidneys known as nephropathia epidemica. In severe cases, it is called haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).

Symptoms of HFRS that appear suddenly include:

  • Severe headache
  • Back and abdominal pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision

As the disease progresses, other symptoms may appear:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Acute stress disorder
  • Vascular permeability
  • Acute kidney failure

Hantaviruses occurring in North and South American can trigger the so-called hantavirus-induced cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS). The symptoms of HCPS appear abruptly and are initially quite unspecific:

  • High fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle pain
  • Abdominal pain

Four to ten days after the onset of the first symptoms, other symptoms may appear, such as coughing and shortness of breath. The mortality rate is up to 40%.

There is no therapy against hantaviruses. Therefore, only symptoms can be alleviated. The healing process takes several weeks.

 

How can I protect myself from an infection with hantaviruses?

The following measures help to protect against an infection with hantaviruses:

  • Washing hands after being outdoors, in the attic, in the cellar
  • Storing food safely and tightly closed
  • Avoiding contact with rodent droppings
  • Wearing an FFP respirator is recommended when cleaning rodent infested areas and rooms where dust is generated

 

Sources:

https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Infekt/EpidBull/Merkblaetter/Ratgeber_Hantaviren.html
https://www.infektionsschutz.de/erregersteckbriefe/hantaviren.html#c826
https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/H/Hantavirus/Merkblatt_PDF.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

 

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Virucidal against enveloped viruses