CDC Health Advisory - Investigation of Seoul Virus Outbreak

PUBLISHED: Jan 27, 2017

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and health officials from Wisconsin and Illinois are conducting an investigation of Seoul virus infections among pet rats and persons exposed to rats at rat-breeding facilities in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Seoul virus is a member of the hantavirus group of rodent-borne viruses. Trace-back and trace-out investigations of possibly infected rodents have identified distribution chains in other states that may require additional investigations. People who become infected with this virus often exhibit relatively mild or no symptoms, but some will develop a form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) with death in approximately 1–2% of HFRS cases. Although serologic studies have indicated the presence of Seoul virus in wild rats in the United States, this is the first known outbreak associated with pet rats in the United States.

At this time the CDC recommends:

  • Laboratory testing for all persons who report recent or current illness after (1) handling rats from a facility with Seoul virus infection that was confirmed by laboratory testing (either rat or human), or (2) handling rats from a facility that sold rats to a facility with Seoul virus infection. Testing is also offered to persons with exposure to rats from a facility with Seoul virus infection that was confirmed by laboratory testing, or to persons with exposure to rats from a facility that sold rats to a facility with Seoul virus infection but where no illness was reported. All testing should be coordinated with the healthcare provider’s local or state health department.
  • Health care providers may also consider laboratory testing of patients with symptoms suggestive of Seoul virus infection and a history of rat contact, regardless of whether there is known interaction with rats or rat facilities with laboratory confirmed Seoul virus infections.
  • As with all human hantavirus infections, Seoul virus infection is a notifiable disease. Healthcare providers who suspect Seoul virus infection in a patient should report it to their local health department.
  • For laboratory testing inquiries, healthcare providers should contact their state or local health department. Prior approval is required by the state health department.

See the CDC’s Health Advisory for additional information.

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