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Seoul virus in pet and feeder rats in the Netherlands​​​​​​​

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  • Seoul virus in pet and feeder rats in the Netherlands​​​​​​​

    nov 29 2019


    Rats can be reservoir of Seoul virus. Humans can be infected with Seoul virus when they come into contact with urine, faeces or saliva of infected rats. The RIVM performed a study on the presence of Seoul virus in 175 pet and feeder rats of 29 private owners, 7 hobby breeders and 9 commercial breeders in the Netherlands. One rat of a private owner tested positive. From 1 hobby breeder, 25% of the tested rats was positive. From 2 commercial breeders, about half of the tested rats had a positive result.

    The number of rats infected with Seoul virus in the Netherlands, is difficult to determine. The total number of pet rats and rats in commercial breeding farms in the Netherlands is unknown. There is also a high number of rats that are imported into the Netherlands.

    Since 2016, Seoul virus has been found in five patients in the Netherlands. These patients all had contact with pet rats or feeder rats. To prevent new human patients, public education about Seoul virus can be improved. For example regarding the presence of Seoul virus in the Netherlands, disease symptoms, and hygiene measures. An example of hygiene measures is washing of hands after contact with rats. Or wetting of the bedding material when cleaning cages to prevent inhalation of infected dust material.

    To prevent spread of Seoul virus within and between (commercial) breeders, measures need to be taken. Which measures are effective and realistic, needs to be further examined.

    A small part of the persons infected with Seoul virus become ill. The symptoms are usually mild, resembling flu. In some cases, additional symptoms develop such as fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, general malaise, leg muscle weakness and pain in the lower back. Infrequently, the symptoms are more severe, such as hepatitis, kidney failure or internal bleeding. Rats do not develop any disease symptoms themselves.
    “Addressing chronic disease is an issue of human rights – that must be our call to arms"
    Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief The Lancet

    ~~~~ Twitter:@GertvanderHoek ~~~ ~~~