Hantavirus infections have hit a five-year high in the European region, according to the latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
A new report from the European Surveillance System (TESSy) shows that across 21 countries, the latest available data show a notification rate of 0.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. Over the five-year period 2013-2017, the number of reported hantavirus cases ranged from 2,157 in 2013 to a high of 4,239 in 2017, with no evident trend.
Two countries, Germany and Finland, accounted for 70.1 per cent of all reported cases. Finland had the highest notification rate at 22.6 cases per 100,000 population.
Most cases were infected by Puumala virus (PUUV) and the disease mostly affected adults aged over 25 years. Hantavirus infection was more common in males in all age groups, with an overall crude male-to-female case numbers ratio of 2.1:1.
Changing landscape attributes and climatic parameters determining food availability for rodents could explain fluctuations in hantavirus circulation level and the yearly variation of hantavirus infection numbers, said the ECDC.
In the absence of a licensed vaccine, prevention mainly relies on rodent control, avoidance of contact and proper hygiene control of areas contaminated by rodent excreta.