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Seoul Virus Outbreak Linked To Pet Rats

140px-US_CDC_logo.svgState and federal health officials announced recently that at least eight people who breed pet rats have been infected with the Seoul virus.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is investigating this case, and they say these are the first human cases associated with pet rats that they’ve seen in the United States. Previously, there have been several outbreaks of the Seoul virus in the U.S., but those occurred in wild rats.

The Seoul virus is usually found in wild Norway rats, which can be found throughout our country. The symptoms of this virus can include fever, chills, nausea, pink eye-type eye infection, and abdominal pain. In rare cases, an infection can progress to Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which begins with fever, severe aches and fatigue, and may turn fatal.

Public health officials tell us that more infected people may be identified as the investigation proceeds.

To prevent diseases or infections carried by rats, the CDC recommends:
• Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching or feeding rodents.
• Rodent cages and supplies should be cleaned and disinfected outside of the home. Never do this in the bathroom or kitchen.
• Always wear gloves when doing this type of work to avoid coming in contact with droppings or urine.
• Avoid bites and scratches from any rodent. If bitten or scratched, you should immediately wash the wound with warm soapy water.
• Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s health. Your vet can play a key role in helping you and your pets stay healthy.
• Let your doctor know if you’ve been around pet rodents, especially if you’re sick, or have been bitten or scratched.

Rodents can make great pets for the right family.  By following these tips, you can help you and your pets stay safe and healthy.