Gastrointestinal diseases: thousands of rotavirus infections in Germany
In Germany, the number of rotavirus infections increased significantly compared to the previous year. The highly contagious pathogens can cause severe gastrointestinal complaints. Young children in particular should be protected.
Number of rotavirus infections has risen sharply
As the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) explains on its portal "infektionsschutz.de", rotaviruses are "one of the most common causes of gastrointestinal diseases in young children". According to the experts, they are “highly contagious, which is why almost all children up to the age of 5 have already had an infection”. But you can get infected several times in the course of your life. According to health experts, the number of rotavirus infections in Germany has increased significantly compared to last year.
Cases of illness reported to the Robert Koch Institute
According to a message from the Barmer health insurance, more than 2,700 rotavirus infections in Thuringia have been reported to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) since the beginning of the year - that is already more than in the previous year with 1,600 diseases.
By mid-October, 1,019 such infections had been registered in Schleswig-Holstein. This is 61 percent more than in the corresponding period last year. There were 717 cases throughout 2016.
According to the health insurance company, there was also a strong increase compared to the previous year in other federal states: in Saxony from 3,180 in the entire previous year to 4,402 infections by mid-October 2017.
In Baden-Württemberg the number rose from 833 to 2,214 so far and in Hamburg from 843 to currently 1,270 rotavirus infections.
Disease can be particularly dangerous for young children
“Rotaviruses cause diarrhea, vomiting and fever. This can be particularly dangerous for infants and young children because they lose a lot of fluid very quickly, ”warns Thomas Wortmann, Managing Director of Barmer for Schleswig-Holstein.
“If the loss of fluid cannot be compensated for, the condition can sometimes be life-threatening,” says “infektionsschutz.de”.
"Fatigue, loss of appetite and abdominal pain are common side effects," said Birgit Dziuk, Managing Director of Barmer in Thuringia.
Highly contagious and extremely resistant
The viruses are highly contagious and extremely resistant. The pathogens can survive outside the body for several days. A few virus particles are enough to trigger an infection.
Infected people excrete the pathogens for about a week, they get into the hands of adults or other children via the toilet or diapers, from there on door handles, on changing tables or toys.
“This sets off a textbook-like infection spiral. Hand hygiene is extremely important, ”said Wortmann.
Early vaccination for babies
In older children and adults, the disease usually does not take such a severe course because the immune system has been confronted with the pathogens several times and is trained accordingly.
The situation is different for infants and young children: a good half of those suffering from rotaviruses must be treated in the hospital.
The Barmer therefore advises swallowing vaccination against the rotavirus, which consists of two to three vaccinations.
“Babies should start swallowing rotavirus at the age of six to twelve weeks. Then they are protected for about two to three years, exactly for the time when an infection can be particularly difficult, ”Wortmann emphasizes. (ad)