Borna virus: Bavaria reports infection with the dangerous pathogen

transmission by mice
Rare, but often deadly: Bavaria reports infection with the Borna virus

Field shrews transmit the Borna virus. The infection does not cause any severe symptoms in the animals.

© Wolfgang Willner Nature Photo & Nat/ / Picture Alliance

The Borna virus is very rare in Germany. A case has now been reported in Bavaria. Carriers are mice of a certain species.

The Borna virus has been detected in Bavaria. The district office announced on Tuesday that a person from the district of Mühldorf am Inn was affected by the very rare infection. At first there was no further information. The disease, which is usually fatal, only occurs in a few isolated cases in humans in Germany.

Two more Borna virus infections had become known in the district in the past three years. The so-called classic Borna virus triggers a brain inflammation that ends fatally in almost all cases. Survivors usually retain the most severe consequential damage. On average, two infections are reported in Germany each year. However, scientists assume that the number of unreported cases is higher – with up to six cases per year.

Few infections with the Borna virus overall, most of them in Bavaria

According to the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL), seven infections were known throughout Germany in 2021, five of them in Bavaria.

The only known host of the pathogen is the field shrew, in which the infection does not cause any severe symptoms. The animals excrete the virus in urine, feces and saliva. Other mammals can also become infected.

The pathogen was first identified in 2018 as the cause of severe encephalitis in humans, as the State Office for Health and Food Safety in Bavaria explains in an overview of the Borna virus. How exactly the virus is transmitted from the field shrew to humans is unclear. A transmission from person to person is extremely unlikely, writes the authority. According to the experts, Borna’s disease, which is caused by the virus, has been known as an animal disease for more than 250 years.

Sources: dpa / State Office for Health and Food Safety in Bavaria

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