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Detection of antibodies to the Borna virus

Photo: - / dpa

The person, who fell ill with the rare Borna virus in Middle Franconia, has now died as a result of the infection. This was announced by a spokeswoman for the Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen district office on Monday.

The authority had informed about the case of infection in the district on November 21. According to the information, the Borna virus (BoDV-1 – Borna Disease Virus 1) occurs in the field shrew and triggers encephalitis, which is fatal in almost all cases. The animals excrete the virus in urine, faeces and saliva. This can infect other mammals.

Transmission route to humans still unknown

The exact route of transmission to humans is still unknown and is part of research. In this case, too, the State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) is currently trying to trace the transmission.

Nationwide, around 50 cases of Borna virus in humans are known to date. The Robert Koch Institute assumes that there are two to six cases per year in Germany, with Bavaria being particularly affected.

To protect yourself from infection, the LGL advises you to avoid contact with shrews and their excretions. Places where people could come into contact with shrews include road embankments, stone walls, hedges and, in general, sheds and other parts of buildings accessible to wild animals. It is therefore not yet known whether garden and house shrews can also transmit the Borna virus.