Russian troops in northern Ukraine’s Kharkiv province are being mass killed due to “rat fever”, according to the Ukrainian intelligence service GOeR. The infected soldiers suffer from headaches, fever, rashes and nausea. According to the government, they are complaining to the Russian army leadership about the lack of medical assistance.
Hantavirus, as the disease is officially called, is spread by mice and rats. Rodents themselves do not become sick, but they can infect humans through their urine, saliva and feces. When they dry, they can form dust particles that are also infectious to humans. Normally, the chance of contracting hantavirus is “very small,” according to the RIVM. However, this risk increases in dirty and poorly ventilated areas, such as trenches.
It has been known for some time that soldiers at the front – also on the Ukrainian side – have to deal with epidemics of mice and rats. Now that winter is coming, animals are searching for warmth and food in the ditches. Not only do they pose a problem for soldiers’ health, but there are also reports of rats gnawing on equipment cables.
Dan de Vries
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