The Luxembourg Department of Health issued a statement Friday (computer translated) warning the public about a rise in the number of hantavirus cases seen so far in 2015.
Although health authorities did not specify the numbers reported, they note that in past weeks, the Department of Health has recorded a growing number of cases of hantavirus infections in Luxembourg. This number is much higher than in previous years.
In Luxembourg, the virus is transmitted to humans by rodents and especially the bank vole (Rötelmaus) and by other rodents like field mouse (Feldmaus); it causes a disease called hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (hämorrhagisches Fieber put renalem Syndrom).
The cause of the increase in the number of infections is related to the presence of a large number of rodents and especially the significant increase in voles. The bank vole lives in forest and currently there is a lot of food in the form of beech trees and other fruit, which explains its intense multiplication. This rodent can be infected without becoming ill himself, while spreading the virus through their feces and urine. A main natural enemy of this rodent is the fox.
To prevent spread of the disease, the Health Department urges people to follow basic hygiene practices, by washing hands before eating, wearing a mask and gloves when handling dry wood, disposing of dead rodents in the rubbish and preventing rodents from entering homes using mouse-traps, for example.
Anyone who thinks they may have the hantavirus should consult their doctor.