Seoul Virus outbreak confirmed


Seoul virus, a form of hantavirus, has been confirmed in the states of Illinois and Wisconsin.  Seoul virus is carried and spread by rats, with the brown or Norway rat most implicated in infections.  Rats are the carriers of the virus, but they show no symptoms of the infection.  However, humans can become infected through exposure to infected blood, urine, or saliva.  Infections are more likely when fresh urine or feces are vacuumed or swept up releasing the particles into the air.  In turn, individuals breathe in the “aerosolized” contaminants and the virus has found a pathway into the human.

The outbreak has infected 8 people in the two states.  Two individuals who operate a rat-breeding facility in Wisconsin became ill and one was hospitalized.  These two individuals confirmed purchasing rats from suppliers in Wisconsin and Illinois.  Further investigations found 6 additional people who tested positive for the virus. All 8 people have since recovered from the infection.

Two CDC epidemiologists are working hand in hand with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in an investigation to determine if the outbreak is larger than originally thought.  The investigations will look closely into the rat-breeding facility, the clients who purchased rats, and the facilities where the rats were purchased.  This will help Public Health officials in deterring the future spread of the virus.

Seoul virus is generally a mild infection; however, approximately 1-2% of cases develop into a HFRS (hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome).  Therefore, it is imperative to take precautions whenever individuals are handling rats.

Disclaimer:  “Any opinions stated in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CSUN faculty/ staff.  Information contained herein has not been verified by CSUN faculty/staff.


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