Tuscany viruses cause meningitis

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New pathogen from the south: So-called Tuscany viruses were detected in Germany for the first time. The first infections were reported from Baden-Württemberg.

(02.08.2010) According to information from the magazine "Fokus", Tuscany viruses were detected for the first time in Germany. According to the paper, the first cases of illness were reported in Baden-Württemberg. The virus can cause mild meningitis in humans.

The virus is said to have spread from the Mediterranean in southwest Germany near the Upper Rhine. The so-called sand mosquitoes are believed to be the carrier of the Tuscany virus. The magazine refers to a previously unpublished research work by doctors from Göttingen, Freiburg and the Pforzheim Clinic. If a person is infected with the virus, there is a slight meningitis, which resolves after a few days, the neurologist Reinhard Kaiser explains to "Focus".

The Tuscany virus is a "subtype" of the sand mosquito fever virus and the most common causative agent of phlebotomic fever. Phlebotomic fever is usually benign and even meningitis that appears disappears after a few days without special therapy. This rarely leads to permanent nerve damage.

In their research work, the doctors had examined cases of inflammation in people of recent years for whom there was no reliable diagnosis to date. The researchers found that ten patients had antibodies against the Tuscany virus. During the two-week incubation period, all ten patients examined had not been to Southern Europe. For the physicians, it seems certain that the virus now also occurs in the state of Baden-Württemberg. The research work will soon be published in the specialist journal "Emerging Infectious Diseases".

In addition to the Tuscany virus, doctors had also identified the so-called Sindbis virus in Baden-Württemberg for the first time. These viruses are also transmitted by mosquitoes. However, the course of the virus infection is mostly harmless. Symptoms include fever, joint pain and inflammation, and rashes. Only very few infected people get brain inflammation. (sb)

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