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This is the first known outbreak of Seoul virus associated with pet rats in the United States, although there have been several outbreaks in wild rats, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Seoul virus is a member of the Hantavirus family of rodent-borne viruses and is carried by wild Norway rats worldwide.
Most rats infected with the virus do not appear sick.
People typically become infected when they are exposed to body fluids (blood, saliva, urine) from infected rats or are bitten by them. People can’t get the virus from other people or from other types of pets, the CDC said in a news release.
In rare cases, infection can lead to kidney disease. Most people infected with the virus recover, according to the CDC.
To prevent Seoul virus infection and other diseases carried by rats:
If you are bitten by a rodent, wash the wound with warm, soapy water immediately, and seek medical attention if: the rodent seems sick; your wound is serious or becomes red, painful, warm or swollen; your last tetanus shot was more than five years ago; or, you develop fever or flu-like illness a week or two after being bitten.