[From mice to men - insights from the hantavirus epidemic in 2010]

Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2012 Feb;137(7):309-13. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1298904. Epub 2012 Feb 8.
[Article in German]


History and admission findings: With 2017 notified cases the largest hantavirus epidemic in Germany has occurred in 2010. We report on two interesting cases illustrating the wide range of the individual clinical course and the diagnostic problems in hantavirus disease. The first patient was a seriously ill 44-year-old man who needed dialysis after an onset of flu-like symptoms with oliguria. An initially negative result of a hantavirus serology focused attention on rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis. The second patient, a 22-year-old man, presented with severe neurological symptoms with seizures.

Treatment and course: Pathological examination of the renal-biopsy specimen in Case 1 reportedly showed the typical pattern of tubulointerstitial damage in the renal cortex and the outer medulla as in hantavirus infection. In a repeated analysis Puumala virus RNA as a marker of acute infection was found. After dialysis and administration of higher-dose systemic glucocorticoids the patient slowly recovered. In Case 2 the severe neurological symptoms caused a complete neurological diagnostic with lumbar puncture and MRI before the detection of specific antibodies and Puumala virus RNA showed that nephropathia epidemica was the disease. The patient recovered after 10 days.

Conclusion: Because of the variability of symptoms and the extrarenal manifestations of the disease the nephropathia epidemica can occasionally cause problems of differential diagnosis. A rapid diagnosis is important because of the urgent differentiation of other renal diseases with bad prognosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Epidemics
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Hantavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Hantavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Hantavirus Infections / pathology*
  • Hantavirus Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Viral