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Altikon / Winterthur: "I thought I had lung cancer – but it was a rabbit outbreak" – Nationwide



There are shadows in the lungs. "It doesn't look good," said the doctors at Winterthur Hospital, Walter Bachmann of Altikon. There is a suspicion of lung cancer. Farmers and 60-year-old forest guards from the wine country pulled land under their feet. "I don't see the future from one moment to the next, suddenly everything recedes." Bachmann has been smoking for almost 40 years. Because of that, it seemed quite reasonable for him that he could suffer from lung cancer. That was four years ago. But the feeling was still there. He still remembered how he felt at home just a few hours earlier that day. After taking a shower, he let himself faint on the bed. "I'm really done," Bachmann said. When he had a fever of 40 degrees, felt severe chest pain, and could barely breathe, he called his family doctor. He advised him to go to the hospital immediately, which was done by Bachmann.

Old uncertainty

From there began a period of long uncertainty for him and his wife. One investigation followed by another. And even if you don't find cancer cells, the suspicion of lung cancer can never be completely eliminated. "We have never cried as much as this month," recalled Bachmann's wife Beatrice.

"We never cried like this month."Beatrice Bachmann

After these four weeks, finally, the good news is redeeming and joyful: This is not lung cancer, but pneumonia caused by a rabbit outbreak, which can be cured. "We were truly relieved when we heard this and thanked God for that," Beatrice Bachmann said. To find a rare disease takes time, he said, looking back. "We can be happy, at KSW & # 39; Dr. House & # 39 ;, who have discovered rabbit outbreak bacteria.»

Her husband was then given high-dose antibiotics for several days; Only a few moments later he was much better. There is no lasting damage. Bachmann completely recovered from his illness. In addition, he was able to get something positive from difficult days: "Infection now makes me immune to rabies forever."

Hasenkot as the cause?

But how was Bachmann infected? It is clear that even some pathogens can trigger disease, that the incubation period is usually only a few days and in principle many routes of infection can be imagined (see also the box below). The Weinländer farmer himself assumes that he has inhaled bacteria above the best dust particles, which are stirred by straw humps. This bal may have been contaminated with rabbit or rat droppings.

"Why is there an above-average number of rabies cases in the Winterthur and Andelfingen districts that cannot be said with certainty."Nadia Schürch, Spiez Laboratory

Walter Bachmann later learned that the same drama happened on a farm just half a mile away. "A nine-year-old boy fell ill at the same time as I did with a rabbit outbreak."

KSW has handled many cases

The fact that in the Andelfingen and Winterthur districts have hotspots for years with an increased risk of transmission for rabbit outbreaks (see map below) is also indicated by figures published by Winterthur Hospital compared to "Landbote". "Since 2007, the Infectious Disease of KSW has treated 29 cases," said Urs Karrer, chief physician of Medical Polyclinic at KSW and a specialist for tularemia, such as a rabbit outbreak in the so-called jargon.

Rabbit outbreak infection in humans. Source: © swisstopo (JM100004) / Labor Spiez, Graphics: mt / da

Most commonly, epidemic rabies in KSW has flu-like symptoms such as fever, sweating and headaches, "followed by severe swelling of local lymph nodes." In some cases, affected lymph nodes must be removed surgically, Karrer said. The patients were treated partly as outpatients and some as inpatients. However, severe cases of rabies are also often registered with KSW (43 percent of all cases). The patients suffer from high fever, chills, headaches and pneumonia. For therapy with intravenous antibiotics, they last up to seven days in the hospital. Karrer acknowledges that sometimes it can be time-consuming, "until the diagnosis is made and correct treatment begins". Even though the rabbit outbreak in Switzerland is practically never fatal to humans, it's not dangerous. "In 2012, we treated patients who had a very difficult history," Karrer recalled. "This patient may die of tularemia without proper treatment."

Infection is often more than lice

For a long time, it was assumed that transmission to humans occurred mainly through direct or indirect contact with diseased animals (rabbits, mice, etc.). In the past, most hunters or farmers were affected. However, a new study shows that fleas are the most important source of infection in Switzerland. Their bite is responsible for about 60 percent of cases.

Researchers believe that an increase in rabies may be related to global warming and changing recreational behavior. "But why there are an above-average number of rabies cases in the Winterthur and Andelfingen districts cannot be said with certainty," explained Nadia Schürch, Head of Bacteriology at Spiez Laboratory. "One hypothesis, for example, is that fleas find better conditions in these areas than elsewhere." (Landbote)

Created: 20.11.2018, 16:26 hours


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