What is the Seoul Virus?
The Seoul virus is similar to a hantavirus. The first of known hantaviruses were discovered in 1993. At first the viruses were so confusing to doctors and scientists. In fact, the virus was was dubbed the “Sin Nombre” virus, otherwise known as the virus without a name.
Hantavirus’ first victim was a young man who lived in New Mexico. Although doctors tried everything to save his life, they could not. In 2012, a small outbreak of the virus killed three campers at Yosemite National Park.
“Though Seoul virus is in the hantavirus family, it produces a milder illness than some other hantaviruses,” CDC officials said. If you think you may have been exposed to the Seoul virus there are some symptoms you can be looking out for though.
NBC News reported that the CDC named symptoms such as a “fever, severe headache, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, redness of the eyes, or rash. In rare cases, infection can also lead to acute renal disease. However, not all people infected with the virus experience symptoms. Most people infected with Seoul virus recover.”
You can only contract the Seoul virus from a rodent. According to CDC officials, “The virus is not spread between people and cannot be transmitted to or from other types of pets. Rats infected with Seoul virus typically do not appear sick.”
How Did People Get The Seoul Virus?
When people become infected with the Seoul virus they have usually come into contact with fluids from a rodent (or in this case rats). This could include blood, saliva and urine. People are able to contract the virus easily if they are in regular contact with rodents because the animal will likely not show any symptoms.
The first patient discovered to have the Seoul virus was a resident of Wisconsin. They were admitted to the hospital with flu-like symptoms, according to CNN, and was a home-based rodent breeder.
All of the cases discovered in the two Northern states are “the first human cases we’ve seen in the United States associated with pet rats,” said Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, a veterinarian and deputy division director. Prior to this outbreak the Seoul virus has been linked only to wild rats in the U.S.
“There was an outbreak reported in Europe previously associated with pet rats, so it’s not the first time this has been associated with pets worldwide,” McQuiston said.
Currently only eight patients have been diagnosed. Both states’ departments of health are attempting to discover who may have been exposed to the Seoul virus. They will be reaching out to ratteries to help identify people who may have been exposed to help prevent an outbreak.
Until the CDC gains control of the Seoul virus outbreak and can be insured that the area is free of the virus the agency is urging U.S. citizens to be cautious. If you come into contact with a rodent (even your pet) you should wash your hands immediately after handling it and do not touch your face. If you’d like to learn more about the Seoul virus, watch the video below:
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Photos: Kai Schreiber