Borna virus: how does this disease manifest itself in humans?

Eight people who died in southern Germany between 1999 and 2019 and had unexplained encephalitis were infected with the Borna virus. This comes from a study recently published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The disease, which owes its name to the city of Borna in Saxony, has long been recognized only in Europe. However, there were other infections in the USA, Japan, Iran and Israel.

Dangerous Borna virus

complications in the brain due to inflammation of the meninges caused by virus

The National Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Safety has called Borna disease “non-purulent meningitis”, which mainly affects horses and sheep. The two-colored shrew transfers the Borna virus to other animals. The infection is associated with neurological and behavioral disorders. It is an inflammation of the brain and meninges that explains the loss of balance and memory in infected people. If you are infected, you also have a fever, convulsions and loss of consciousness.

shrew transmits borna disease to other animals

The Borna virus was recently characterized as one of the negative RNA viruses. However, it has proven to be extremely stable over time. The virus was originally detected in horses and sheep. Other warm-blooded animals can also become infected naturally. Experimental diseases are also possible with primates. The first Borna virus (BDV) markers have also been detected in humans in the past ten years. In addition, it was found that there were many similarities between the neurological and emotional disorders that were observed in animals infected with BDV and in people infected with the virus.

When can an infection be recognized?

unconscious dizziness and meningitis caused by borna virus in humans

To make the diagnosis, the researchers analyzed and examined the cases of more than 50 people. They have had symptoms of encephalitis in the past 20 years. The analyzes were then compared to those of the brain tissue belonging to the eight deceased patients. According to the researchers, the shrew is unable to transmit the virus to humans. Once the first clues identify connections between patients and animals, a rural life, or an outdoor activity, the riddle remains of how humans can become contaminated.

If you are infected with the Borna virus, the first symptoms to watch out for are severe headaches, fever, and general confusion. These symptoms develop into signs of a brain disease: hyperexcitability, aggressiveness, lethargy, drowsiness, stupor. The patient has seizures, memory loss and progressive loss of consciousness.

* Click this link for more information about the study.

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