Rodent Warning After 220 Cases of Haemorrhagic Fever in Slovenia

By , 20 Aug 2019, 11:30 AM News
A brown rat A brown rat Flickr - Jean-Jacques Boujot CC-by-SA-2.0

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STA, 19 August 2019 - Nearly 220 cases of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), a potentially lethal acute contagious disease spread by rodents, have been recorded in Slovenia so far this year. The number has already surpassed that of the most recent outbreak, when 182 people got sick in 2012.

Among those infected were 66 women and 152 men, as the latter are more likely to work in jobs such as logging, where the risk of infection is higher.

According to the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), there are two hotspots: 82 cases were confirmed in southeastern Slovenia and 72 in the Podravje region.

HFRS death rate in Slovenia is very low, as 15 deaths have been recorded over the past 35 years, none in the recent years, with the virus occurring in cycles of three to five years.

In May, NIJZ held a press conference advising caution because data had indicated an outbreak was likely this year.

Slovenia is one of the most at-risk areas for HFRS because it is endemic to three hantaviruses causing the disease: the Puumala virus, the Dobrava virus and the Dobrava-Kurkino virus.

The disease has an incubation period of two to four weeks. A person gets infected when breathing in viruses that are excreted by rodents carrying the virus.

When cleaning out spaces that might be infected by rodents, one should air the rooms thoroughly, after which the surfaces should be sprayed with a 10% chlorine solution and left for 10-30 minutes. To prevent infection, the cleaner should also wear a protective mask and gloves.

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