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Biological Health Threat – Hantavirus [Seoul virus (SEOV)]: USA, Canada

2018/02/04

In January 2017, CDC confirmed recent, acute Seoul virus infection in both patients. An investigation was conducted to identify additional human and rat infections and prevent further transmission

HANTAVIRUS – AMERICAS (09): USA, CANADA
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Date: Fri 2 Feb 2018
Source: MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:131-134. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6704a5 [edited]
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6704a5.htm?s_cid=mm6704a5_e#suggestedcitation

Kerins JL, Koske SE, Kazmierczak J, et al. Outbreak of Seoul Virus Among Rats and Rat Owners — United States and Canada, 2017.

In December 2016, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WDHS) notified CDC of a patient hospitalized with fever, leukopenia, elevated transaminases, and proteinuria. The patient owned and operated an in-home rattery, or rat-breeding facility, with approximately 100 Norway rats, primarily bred as pets. A family member developed similar symptoms 4 weeks later, but was not hospitalized. Because both patients were known to have rodent contact, they were tested for hantavirus infections. In January 2017, CDC confirmed recent, acute Seoul virus infection in both patients. An investigation was conducted to identify additional human and rat infections and prevent further transmission. Ultimately, the investigation identified 31 facilities in 11 states with human and/or rat Seoul virus infections; 6 facilities also reported exchanging rats with Canadian ratteries. Testing of serum samples from 183 persons in the United States and Canada identified 24 (13.1 percent) with Seoul virus antibodies; 3 (12.5 percent) were hospitalized and no deaths occurred. This investigation, including cases described in a previously published report from Tennessee, identified the 1st known transmission of Seoul virus from pet rats to humans in the United States and Canada. Pet rat owners should practice safe rodent handling to prevent Seoul virus infection.

Seoul virus is an Old World hantavirus in the Bunyaviridae family. Its natural reservoir is the Norway rat (_Rattus norvegicus_). Rats infected with Seoul virus are asymptomatic, but can transmit the virus to humans through infectious saliva, urine, droppings, or aerosolization from contaminated bedding. Human signs and symptoms range from mild influenza-like illness to hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS). HFRS causes acute renal failure and can result in death; however, asymptomatic Seoul virus infections also occur. Wild Norway rats in the United States have been known to harbor Seoul virus infection, but transmission to humans is rare. Seoul virus is not known to spread from person to person. In the United Kingdom, Seoul virus transmission has occurred from pet rats to humans, but before this outbreak, infections had not been reported in pet rats in the United States or Canada.

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail
<promed@promedmail.org>

[Seoul virus (SEOV) is a widely distributed virus around the world in brown (Norway) rats. There have been sporadic cases of transmission of SEOV to humans from pet and laboratory rats in various localities. The above report sounds a warning to rat breeding sites to be aware of the risk that SEOV can present to their animals and the people in contact with them. The above report is a follow up to the 2017 report of the SEOV infection in rats and people in Wisconsin and Illinois USA (see ProMED-mail Hantavirus – Americas (05): USA (IL,WI) Seoul virus 20170122.4782661). Interested readers are urged to read the complete report, available at the above URL.

Following the initial 2017 report of the SEOV cases in Wisconsin and Illinois, USA, Dr. Jan Clement and colleagues of the Belgian Hantavirus Reference Center provided helpful comments about clinical aspects of SEOV infections in humans (see ProMED-mail Hantavirus – Americas (07): USA (IL,WI) Seoul virus, comment 20170123.4784492). They also provided a good overview of Seoul virus around the world (see ProMED-mail archive no. 20141028.2907225).

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map showing the location of Illinois and Wisconsin in the Upper Midwest USA and Canada to the north can be accessed at http://healthmap.org/promed/p/216. – Mod.TY]

See Also

2017
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Hantavirus – Americas (07): USA (IL,WI) Seoul virus, comment 20170123.4784492
Hantavirus – Americas (05): USA (IL,WI) Seoul virus 20170122.4782661

2014

Hantavirus update – Americas (42): USA (NY) Seoul virus, rat reservoir, comment 20141028.2907225
Hantavirus update – Americas (41): USA (NYC) Seoul virus, rat reservoir 20141017.2872156

2013

Hantavirus update – Americas (39): comment 20131023.2017083
Seoul virus – Sweden: pet rat, 1st detection 20130705.1809509
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Source:
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases


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