Rat pack: Rat Haven helps to shelter unwanted rodents

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 27, 2017 in Rat News
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Stephanie Costain started PEI’s Rat Haven after she adopted her first rat a year ago as a place for pet rats that are surrendered — or otherwise in need of a new home.

“I really liked him, found out that he needed a friend, started doing research and they’re like little puppy dogs, basically,” said Costain of her first rat. “It just kind of blew up from there.”

Today, Costain currently has 12 rats in her care and said she won’t stop there.

‘Not scary at all’

“They’re great companion animals. They’re affectionate, they’re lovable. I’ve never been aggressively bitten by any rat I’ve taken in. They’re just completely adorable,” she said.

Rat Haven

Stephanie Costain holds Phoenix, one of the 12 rats she’s currently caring for. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

As part of the haven, Costain fosters or adopts out rats, and help them get medical attention if necessary.

“Unfortunately they do have a short life span. They have very, very sensitive respiratory systems so you’ve got to be careful,” said Costain. “They’re pretty expensive for medical funds.” 

‘They’re extremely intelligent and not scary at all’

Costain has started an online fundraiser to help with the medical costs associated with rescued rats.

Ultimately, she hopes to change the way people view rats.

Rat Haven

Costain’s ultimate goal is to change the way people view rats. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

“They’re not the dirty, disgusting creatures that remind you of the black plague. They’re cute and can be funny at times, and they’re extremely intelligent and not scary at all.”

Article source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/p-e-i-s-rat-haven-1.3996468

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Seoul virus – United States of America and Canada

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 26, 2017 in Rat News
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Disease outbreak news

20 February 2017

On 24 January 2017, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through their Health Alert Network (HAN) publication, reported 8 cases of infection with Seoul virus in the states of Wisconsin (n=2) and Illinois (n=6). The first two cases were reported in early December 2016, when two home-based pet rat breeders in Wisconsin State developed an acute febrile illness, later confirmed as Seoul virus infection. Rats (Rattus norvegicus) at some facilities also tested positive for Seoul virus. Human infection with Seoul virus is not commonly found in the United States; this virus family also includes Sin Nombre virus, which is the most common hantavirus causing disease in the United States. This is the first known outbreak associated with pet rats in the United States.

To date, a total of 11 people have been infected in the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Colorado. Two of the individuals were hospitalized. Seoul virus infection was also confirmed in pet rats from ratteries in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. Follow-up investigations indicate that potentially infected rats may have been distributed or received in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. All investigations to date have indicated that the affected breeding facilities are limited to the pet rat trade. None of these ratteries supply (or have supplied) rats to research facilities.

In addition, follow-up investigations by the United States CDC and public health officials in Canada indicate that rats have been exchanged between the United States and Canada. According to the Canada IHR national focal point report of 10 February 2017, the Canadian rat breeding facilities under investigation exported rats to the United States and also imported rats from affected United States facilities. As of 10 February 2017, three positive human cases for the Hemorrhagic Fever Renal Syndrome (HFRS) group of hantaviruses, which includes Seoul, Hantaan, Puumala and Dobrava viruses, have been identified by serology in Canada. No serious illness was reported in these individuals. Two of the cases breed rats, and the third had contact with rats. Further laboratory testing and virus characterization is ongoing. Further epidemiologic investigation and testing of rats is planned.

Public health response

Health authorities both in the United States and Canada are implementing the following measures to respond to the outbreak:

Canada

  • Further laboratory testing and virus characterization to confirm Seoul virus exposure in humans.
  • Assessment of associated pet rat breeding facilities.
  • Further epidemiological investigation and testing of rats.

United States of America

  • The United States CDC and State Health Departments are collaborating to investigate the outbreak.
  • Depopulation carried out in some affected ratteries.
  • Investigations regarding the importation and exportation of the rats before the detection of the outbreak ongoing.

Information on Seoul virus

Seoul virus is a type of hantavirus that is transmitted from rats to humans after exposure to aerosolized urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents, or after exposure to dust from their nests or bedding. Transmission may also occur from rat bites or when contaminated materials are directly introduced into broken skin or onto mucous membranes. For Seoul virus, the natural host is the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) and the black rat (Rattus rattus). This virus has been found in both pet rats and wild rat populations around the world. The incubation period varies from 1 to 8 weeks; however, most individuals develop symptoms within 1 to 2 weeks after exposure. Seoul virus infection symptoms can range from mild to severe. In the severe form of the disease, patients can exhibit bleeding and renal syndromes. Inapparent infections can also occur. Seoul virus infection is not transmissible from human to human. There is no effective treatment available for Seoul virus infection.

WHO risk assessment

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) is the severe form of the infection with Seoul virus. The case fatality rate (CFR) among humans who develop HFRS due to Seoul virus ranges from 1-2%. Of the 11 cases reported in the United States so far, two were hospitalized and none have died.

Although the three HFRS cases in Canada are still under investigation, there is some evidence of an epidemiological link to the United States Seoul virus outbreak.

There is no available information on further distribution of the infected rats outside of the United States and Canada. Rats do not show symptoms of disease when they are infected with Seoul virus. Once infected, rats can continue to shed virus throughout their lives, potentially infecting other rats and humans. The United States CDC is working with state health departments in the United States and others to investigate the outbreak of Seoul virus infections in pet rats and humans, to trace shipments and transport of rats, some of which may be infected with Seoul virus, to better understand how the virus entered the pet trade and to interrupt transmission of Seoul virus to other rats and humans.

Because there is presently no effective treatment for Seoul virus infection, preventing infections in people is important.

If infected rodents have contact with local rat populations, the infection with Seoul virus could spread to non-infected rodents and consequently change the prevalence of this zoonotic disease, both in rodents and in humans.

WHO advice

International pet trade has the potential to spread and cause emerging or re-emerging disease in humans. WHO encourages State Parties to developed and maintain the capacity to detect, and report similar events.

Article source: http://www.who.int/csr/don/20-february-2017-seoulvirus-usa-and-canada/en/

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Pet Talk: UI experts discuss Seoul virus | News-Gazette.com – Champaign/Urbana News

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 25, 2017 in Rat News
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By CHRIS BEUOY
UI College of Veterinary Medicine

“An exotics veterinarian, a public health veterinarian and a veterinary epidemiologist walk into a rattery …”

It may sound like the setup for a very odd joke, but this is exactly what’s been happening in Illinois recently, as local, state and federal health agencies respond to several human cases of Seoul virus transmitted by rats.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health have been investigating at least 10 human cases in Wisconsin and Illinois of exposure to Seoul virus, a strain of hantavirus that may cause mild illness and has the potential to cause severe kidney problems (but is distinct from a more lethal hantavirus strain that causes respiratory disease). At two Illinois rat-breeding facilities — called ratteries — rats and people tested positive for the virus in January. Before the discovery of the infection, rats from these facilities had been shipped to 12 other states, where investigations into possible spread of the virus are still underway.

Unfortunately, this story has no simple punch line. But there is one positive aspect to the ongoing investigation: It provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the ways that human, animal and environmental health are inextricably linked. On Jan. 30, a discussion was held with two UI College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members who have assisted in the investigation:

How many people have pet rats?

Dr. Julia Whittington: According to statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association, in 2012, nearly 400,000 U.S. households had pet rats or pet mice, with a total of about 868,000 of these little pets nationwide. A more recent estimate is that more than half a million U.S. households have at least one pet mouse or rat.

These Seoul virus cases impact a very small segment of the population. Why is this newsworthy?

Whittington: This is the first time cases of Seoul virus have been linked to pet rats, as opposed to wild rats, in the United States. It turns out that pet rats and rats used in biomedical research have been bred from the brown rat, which is one of two rat species that serve as the natural reservoir for Seoul virus. Brown rats provide the long-term host for the virus but, as is often the case with the reservoir species, are not sickened by it. So the owners of pet rats had no reason to suspect their rats were carrying a virus. We have almost no data regarding how widespread the Seoul virus may be among pet rats. One national veterinary diagnostic laboratory that includes a test for Seoul virus in a routine health panel for pet rats reported having identified no cases among samples received over the past several years; that particular diagnostic test is currently being evaluated by the CDC to ensure its validity. It is reassuring to note that Seoul virus is not spread person to person, and no human cases have previously been connected to pet rats.

How does this situation compare with other cases of disease spread by pets?

Whittington: In 2003, infected animals newly arrived from Ghana for the pet trade were housed near prairie dogs at an Illinois pet store. These prairie dogs then transmitted monkeypox to nearly 50 people in six states. In the monkeypox case and in the Seoul virus situation, there was co-mingling of animals from different sources. The current investigation has revealed that within the pet rat industry, there is an incredible amount of movement of animals. Breeders exchange animals to achieve specific traits, such as a certain coat color. There are also rat swaps among owners.

Dr. Yvette Johnson-Walker: Pets may be implicated in many “zoonotic” diseases, meaning diseases that can be transmitted from animals to people. Here in Champaign County, there have been cases of tularemia, which is found in rabbits and rodents. Outdoor cats that hunt wildlife provide one avenue for that disease to reach humans. Leptospirosis is another bacterial disease transmitted by animals, most commonly cattle, pigs, dogs and rodents. Pet dogs can be infected by contact with wildlife or contaminated lakes and streams, and can then pass the disease to the people they live with. The bottom line is: Pets are part of our families. Whatever the pet has, the family may have, and vice versa. That’s one of many reasons it’s important to practice safe handling of animals, whether pet rat, dog or parrot. It’s safest not to exchange kisses with pets, to keep your food away from pet areas and to avoid coming into direct contact with pet waste. Ensuring regular veterinary care for your pets will also help prevent disease transmission to human family members. Your veterinarian is one of the best sources of information about zoonotic diseases. As an epidemiologist, I’d love to see MDs expand the scope of their questions when taking a patient’s history. They routinely ask people, “Do you smoke?” But how often do they ask about pets in the household and whether the pets are getting routine health checks?

How have experts from the college aided the Seoul virus investigation?

Johnson-Walker: College personnel have tested rats, humanely euthanized pets exposed to the virus, advised on biosecurity protocols and a statewide response plan and prepared information about the virus for veterinarians and pet owners. As someone trained to facilitate emergency response planning, I’m taking the lead in coordinating the college’s collaborations with IDPH and CDC.

Whittington: Our breadth and depth of knowledge about animals and zoonotic disease far exceeds what any single public health agency can provide. As a clinician who sees exotic pets nearly every day, I understood some of the obstacles that would be encountered in trying to draw blood from dozens of rats in a single day when testing for the virus at suspected ratteries. When the instructions I had been given didn’t work — it was not possible to get a sufficient blood sample from the rats’ tails — I was prepared with “plan B,” in this case, an anesthesia machine that allowed me to safely draw blood from the submandibular vein. Veterinarians are like MacGyver. We have a lot of experience thinking on our feet and finding solutions.

What are some lessons to be learned from the rat virus situation?

Johnson-Walker: For poultry, pigs and other food animals, farms follow the highest biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction of disease agents into the animal population. The movement of animals is highly regulated in the event that disease occurs and its origin must be traced. For pets, this is not the case. Dogs congregate at pet stores, parks, groomers. The outbreak of the new strain of canine flu two years ago showed how rapidly pathogens can spread. It’s really no different from the scenario in which one person with a highly transmissible disease, like Ebola, travels by plane to another country. Anyone who comes into contact with that person can be infected and become a source of infection to others. This is why you are asked at every doctor’s visit if you’ve recently visited a country that has Ebola virus. I think the Seoul virus cases can bring home to everyone, whether rat owner or not, that common sense precautions should always be followed to limit disease spread. Wash your hands!

Whittington: The cases of Seoul virus provide a perfect example of the blurred interface between domestic and wild animals. Half a mile from the vet school, there’s a new medical facility with a lovely water feature. Every time I drive by, I think, soon there will be complaints about geese taking advantage of the water — “if you build it, they will come” — and the geese will likely enjoy snacking on the cattle feed at the beef farm directly across Windsor Road. Then they’ll fly back to the water feature, bringing any bugs encountered on the farm to the grass and parking lot shared by people. If we want to live with animals — which we do — and we want to continue to urbanize the landscape where the animals live, and we want to have a global economy, then we also have to realize that diseases are going to travel too, between countries and between species. The key is for public health experts, medical doctors and veterinarians to work together to find ways to reduce health risks introduced by human activity.

An archive of pet columns from the UI College of Veterinary Medicine is available at vetmed.illinois.edu/petcolumns/. Requests for reprints of this article may be directed to Chris Beuoy at beuoy@illinois.edu.

Article source: http://www.news-gazette.com/living/2017-02-20/pet-talk-ui-experts-discuss-seoul-virus.html

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Pet Talk: UI experts discuss Seoul virus | News-Gazette.com – Champaign/Urbana News

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 25, 2017 in Rat News
Closed


By CHRIS BEUOY
UI College of Veterinary Medicine

“An exotics veterinarian, a public health veterinarian and a veterinary epidemiologist walk into a rattery …”

It may sound like the setup for a very odd joke, but this is exactly what’s been happening in Illinois recently, as local, state and federal health agencies respond to several human cases of Seoul virus transmitted by rats.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health have been investigating at least 10 human cases in Wisconsin and Illinois of exposure to Seoul virus, a strain of hantavirus that may cause mild illness and has the potential to cause severe kidney problems (but is distinct from a more lethal hantavirus strain that causes respiratory disease). At two Illinois rat-breeding facilities — called ratteries — rats and people tested positive for the virus in January. Before the discovery of the infection, rats from these facilities had been shipped to 12 other states, where investigations into possible spread of the virus are still underway.

Unfortunately, this story has no simple punch line. But there is one positive aspect to the ongoing investigation: It provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the ways that human, animal and environmental health are inextricably linked. On Jan. 30, a discussion was held with two UI College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members who have assisted in the investigation:

How many people have pet rats?

Dr. Julia Whittington: According to statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association, in 2012, nearly 400,000 U.S. households had pet rats or pet mice, with a total of about 868,000 of these little pets nationwide. A more recent estimate is that more than half a million U.S. households have at least one pet mouse or rat.

These Seoul virus cases impact a very small segment of the population. Why is this newsworthy?

Whittington: This is the first time cases of Seoul virus have been linked to pet rats, as opposed to wild rats, in the United States. It turns out that pet rats and rats used in biomedical research have been bred from the brown rat, which is one of two rat species that serve as the natural reservoir for Seoul virus. Brown rats provide the long-term host for the virus but, as is often the case with the reservoir species, are not sickened by it. So the owners of pet rats had no reason to suspect their rats were carrying a virus. We have almost no data regarding how widespread the Seoul virus may be among pet rats. One national veterinary diagnostic laboratory that includes a test for Seoul virus in a routine health panel for pet rats reported having identified no cases among samples received over the past several years; that particular diagnostic test is currently being evaluated by the CDC to ensure its validity. It is reassuring to note that Seoul virus is not spread person to person, and no human cases have previously been connected to pet rats.

How does this situation compare with other cases of disease spread by pets?

Whittington: In 2003, infected animals newly arrived from Ghana for the pet trade were housed near prairie dogs at an Illinois pet store. These prairie dogs then transmitted monkeypox to nearly 50 people in six states. In the monkeypox case and in the Seoul virus situation, there was co-mingling of animals from different sources. The current investigation has revealed that within the pet rat industry, there is an incredible amount of movement of animals. Breeders exchange animals to achieve specific traits, such as a certain coat color. There are also rat swaps among owners.

Dr. Yvette Johnson-Walker: Pets may be implicated in many “zoonotic” diseases, meaning diseases that can be transmitted from animals to people. Here in Champaign County, there have been cases of tularemia, which is found in rabbits and rodents. Outdoor cats that hunt wildlife provide one avenue for that disease to reach humans. Leptospirosis is another bacterial disease transmitted by animals, most commonly cattle, pigs, dogs and rodents. Pet dogs can be infected by contact with wildlife or contaminated lakes and streams, and can then pass the disease to the people they live with. The bottom line is: Pets are part of our families. Whatever the pet has, the family may have, and vice versa. That’s one of many reasons it’s important to practice safe handling of animals, whether pet rat, dog or parrot. It’s safest not to exchange kisses with pets, to keep your food away from pet areas and to avoid coming into direct contact with pet waste. Ensuring regular veterinary care for your pets will also help prevent disease transmission to human family members. Your veterinarian is one of the best sources of information about zoonotic diseases. As an epidemiologist, I’d love to see MDs expand the scope of their questions when taking a patient’s history. They routinely ask people, “Do you smoke?” But how often do they ask about pets in the household and whether the pets are getting routine health checks?

How have experts from the college aided the Seoul virus investigation?

Johnson-Walker: College personnel have tested rats, humanely euthanized pets exposed to the virus, advised on biosecurity protocols and a statewide response plan and prepared information about the virus for veterinarians and pet owners. As someone trained to facilitate emergency response planning, I’m taking the lead in coordinating the college’s collaborations with IDPH and CDC.

Whittington: Our breadth and depth of knowledge about animals and zoonotic disease far exceeds what any single public health agency can provide. As a clinician who sees exotic pets nearly every day, I understood some of the obstacles that would be encountered in trying to draw blood from dozens of rats in a single day when testing for the virus at suspected ratteries. When the instructions I had been given didn’t work — it was not possible to get a sufficient blood sample from the rats’ tails — I was prepared with “plan B,” in this case, an anesthesia machine that allowed me to safely draw blood from the submandibular vein. Veterinarians are like MacGyver. We have a lot of experience thinking on our feet and finding solutions.

What are some lessons to be learned from the rat virus situation?

Johnson-Walker: For poultry, pigs and other food animals, farms follow the highest biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction of disease agents into the animal population. The movement of animals is highly regulated in the event that disease occurs and its origin must be traced. For pets, this is not the case. Dogs congregate at pet stores, parks, groomers. The outbreak of the new strain of canine flu two years ago showed how rapidly pathogens can spread. It’s really no different from the scenario in which one person with a highly transmissible disease, like Ebola, travels by plane to another country. Anyone who comes into contact with that person can be infected and become a source of infection to others. This is why you are asked at every doctor’s visit if you’ve recently visited a country that has Ebola virus. I think the Seoul virus cases can bring home to everyone, whether rat owner or not, that common sense precautions should always be followed to limit disease spread. Wash your hands!

Whittington: The cases of Seoul virus provide a perfect example of the blurred interface between domestic and wild animals. Half a mile from the vet school, there’s a new medical facility with a lovely water feature. Every time I drive by, I think, soon there will be complaints about geese taking advantage of the water — “if you build it, they will come” — and the geese will likely enjoy snacking on the cattle feed at the beef farm directly across Windsor Road. Then they’ll fly back to the water feature, bringing any bugs encountered on the farm to the grass and parking lot shared by people. If we want to live with animals — which we do — and we want to continue to urbanize the landscape where the animals live, and we want to have a global economy, then we also have to realize that diseases are going to travel too, between countries and between species. The key is for public health experts, medical doctors and veterinarians to work together to find ways to reduce health risks introduced by human activity.

An archive of pet columns from the UI College of Veterinary Medicine is available at vetmed.illinois.edu/petcolumns/. Requests for reprints of this article may be directed to Chris Beuoy at beuoy@illinois.edu.

Article source: http://www.news-gazette.com/living/2017-02-20/pet-talk-ui-experts-discuss-seoul-virus.html

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Pet Rats Responsible for Seoul Virus Outbreak in Midwest

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 24, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

Last week, it was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that pet rats were responsible for the Seoul virus outbreak occurring in Illinois and Wisconsin; this is the first known outbreak associated with pet rats in the United States—most cases have been reported in Asia.

The Seoul virus is a rodent-borne hantavirus that can cause a form of hemorrhagic fever. Since the 1700s, the virus has spread across the globe with the aid of Wild Norway rats. Most rats that are infected do not show clinical signs.
 
Eight individuals who worked at multiple rat-breeding facilities in Illinois and Wisconsin have been diagnosed with the virus. Although the first two cases were reported in a home breeding facility in Wisconsin in December 2016, follow-up investigation led to six additional cases from two breeding facilities in Illinois. Fortunately, all of the affected individuals have recovered.

Symptoms of the Seoul virus typically appear within 1 to 2 weeks after contact with an infected rat, but can sometimes take up to 8 weeks. Common symptoms can include: fever, chills, nausea, pink eye–type infections, and abdominal pain; however, sometimes, the condition can progress to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which can potentially result in death.
 
Interestingly enough, of the six individuals who tested positive for Seoul virus in Illinois, only one experienced any illness or symptoms, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Seoul virus is transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, or urine from an infected rat, or following a bite from an infected rat. The virus cannot be transferred between humans or from other types of pets, according to the CDC.
 
Officials are working to determine where the infected rats came from and where they may have been sent in an attempt to track where other possible infections may have occurred. They believe that the virus has not spread any farther than the areas already under investigation. Anyone who is concerned that they may have purchased a rat from an affected breeding facility should contact their local or state health department. Individuals who experience symptoms of the virus should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
 
To prevent Seoul virus infections, pet rat owners should take the following precautions with their animals:

  • Wash hands with soap and running water after touching or feeding rodents.
  • Avoid bites and scratches from pet rats.
  • Thoroughly clean rodent habitats and supplies, preferably outdoors and never in a kitchen or bathroom sink.
  • Wear gloves when cleaning feces and urine from rodent cages.  

If bitten or scratched by a pet rat, an individual should wash the wound with warm, soapy water and visit a healthcare provider if the injury becomes worse.
 
Jennifer McQuiston, DVM, MS (CAPT, USPHS), deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said in a statement, “Our general recommendation is that anybody who has a pet rodent should be cognizant of good pet care behavior.”

Article source: http://www.contagionlive.com/news/pet-rats-responsible-for-seoul-virus-outbreak-in-midwest

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Pet Rats Linked To Virus Outbreak In Illinois: CDC – Chicago, IL Patch

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 23, 2017 in Rat News
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Eight people in Illinois and Wisconsin who worked at rat-breeding facilities have been infected with a virus not typically found in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Six cases were discovered at an Illinois rat breeder after investigators learned that two patients in Wisconsin had worked with rodents from the facility. The Seoul virus is a member of the hantavirus family of rodent-borne diseases, according to the CDC.

RELATED: Chicago Makes List of Most Rat-, Roach-Infested Cities in the U.S.

Symptoms of the illness include fever, severe headache, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, red eyes or rash. In rare cases, infection can also lead to acute renal disease, the CDC said. Most people infected with Seoul virus recover.

Seoul virus is carried by Norway rats, found around the world. People can become infected if they come in contact with an infected rat’s blood, saliva or urine, or from being bitten by an infected rat, according to the CDC.

CDC officials are working with the Illinois and Wisconsin departments of health to investigate the Seoul virus outbreak – the first known outbreak associated with pet rats in the country.

The human outbreak was discovered when a home-based rodent breeder in Wisconsin was hospitalized in December with symptoms including a headache and fever, according to the CDC. Subsequent blood tests confirmed that the infection was the Seoul virus. A close relative of the first patient – who also worked with rodents – tested positive for the virus as well. Both recovered, the CDC said.

A follow-up investigation at several breeders that supplied the first patient with rats revealed six additional cases.

“CDC has deployed two epidemiologists to work with local and state health authorities to determine if any customers who bought rats have become ill,” the organization said. “Human and animal health officials are working together to make sure infected rats are not distributed further.”

While the virus is not known to have previously affected humans in the U.S., outbreaks have been reported in wild rats.

“The virus is not spread between people and cannot be transmitted to or from other types of pets,” the CDc said. “Rats infected with Seoul virus typically do not appear sick.”

Anyone in Illinois or Wisconsin who is concerned that they may have purchased or come into contact with rats from the affected breeders are advised to contact their state or local health departments. Anyone who recently purchased a rat in the affected areas and is experiencing potential symptoms of the virus should contact their health care provider immediately, the CDC said.

Image via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/public domain

Article source: http://patch.com/illinois/chicago/pet-rats-linked-virus-outbreak-illinois-cdc

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Eleven Cases of Seoul Virus Infection Reported in the US So Far

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 22, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

On Jan. 24, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through its Health Alert Network (HAN) publication, reported eight cases of infection with Seoul virus in the states of Wisconsin (n=2) and Illinois (n=6). The first two cases were reported in early December 2016, when two home-based pet rat breeders in Wisconsin developed an acute febrile illness, later confirmed as Seoul virus infection. Rats (Rattus norvegicus) at some facilities also tested positive for Seoul virus. Human infection with Seoul virus is not commonly found in the United States; this virus family also includes Sin Nombre virus, which is the most common hantavirus causing disease in the United States. This is the first known outbreak associated with pet rats in the United States.



To date, a total of 11 people have been infected in the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Colorado. Two of the individuals were hospitalized. Seoul virus infection was also confirmed in pet rats from ratteries in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. Follow-up investigations indicate that potentially infected rats may have been distributed or received in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. All investigations to date have indicated that the affected breeding facilities are limited to the pet rat trade. None of these ratteries supply (or have supplied) rats to research facilities.

In addition, follow-up investigations by the United States CDC and public health officials in Canada indicate that rats have been exchanged between the United States and Canada. According to the Canada IHR national focal point report of 10 February 2017, the Canadian rat breeding facilities under investigation exported rats to the United States and also imported rats from affected United States facilities. As of 10 February 2017, three positive human cases for the Hemorrhagic Fever Renal Syndrome (HFRS) group of hantaviruses, which includes Seoul, Hantaan, Puumala and Dobrava viruses, have been identified by serology in Canada. No serious illness was reported in these individuals. Two of the cases breed rats, and the third had contact with rats. Further laboratory testing and virus characterization is ongoing. Further epidemiologic investigation and testing of rats is planned.

Health authorities in the United States and in Canada are implementing the following measures to respond to the outbreak:

Canada
Further laboratory testing and virus characterization to confirm Seoul virus exposure in humans.
Assessment of associated pet rat breeding facilities.
Further epidemiological investigation and testing of rats.

United States
The United States CDC and State Health Departments are collaborating to investigate the outbreak.
Depopulation carried out in some affected ratteries.
Investigations regarding the importation and exportation of the rats before the detection of the outbreak ongoing.

Seoul virus is a type of hantavirus that is transmitted from rats to humans after exposure to aerosolized urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents, or after exposure to dust from their nests or bedding. Transmission may also occur from rat bites or when contaminated materials are directly introduced into broken skin or onto mucous membranes. For Seoul virus, the natural host is the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) and the black rat (Rattus rattus). This virus has been found in both pet rats and wild rat populations around the world. The incubation period varies from 1 to 8 weeks; however, most individuals develop symptoms within 1 to 2 weeks after exposure. Seoul virus infection symptoms can range from mild to severe. In the severe form of the disease, patients can exhibit bleeding and renal syndromes. Inapparent infections can also occur. Seoul virus infection is not transmissible from human to human. There is no effective treatment available for Seoul virus infection.

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) is the severe form of the infection with Seoul virus. The case fatality rate (CFR) among humans who develop HFRS due to Seoul virus ranges from 1-2%. Of the 11 cases reported in the United States so far, two were hospitalized and none have died.

Although the three HFRS cases in Canada are still under investigation, there is some evidence of an epidemiological link to the United States Seoul virus outbreak.

There is no available information on further distribution of the infected rats outside of the United States and Canada. Rats do not show symptoms of disease when they are infected with Seoul virus. Once infected, rats can continue to shed virus throughout their lives, potentially infecting other rats and humans. The United States CDC is working with state health departments in the United States and others to investigate the outbreak of Seoul virus infections in pet rats and humans, to trace shipments and transport of rats, some of which may be infected with Seoul virus, to better understand how the virus entered the pet trade and to interrupt transmission of Seoul virus to other rats and humans.

Because there is presently no effective treatment for Seoul virus infection, preventing infections in people is important.

If infected rodents have contact with local rat populations, the infection with Seoul virus could spread to non-infected rodents and consequently change the prevalence of this zoonotic disease, both in rodents and in humans.

International pet trade has the potential to spread and cause emerging or re-emerging disease in humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages its member states to develop and maintain the capacity to detect and report similar events.

Source: WHO

Article source: http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/news/2017/02/eleven-cases-of-seoul-virus-reported-in-the-us-so-far.aspx

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Own A Pet Rat? MontCo Health Offers Warning

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 21, 2017 in Rat News
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NORRISTOWN PA – If your family owns a rat as a pet, and someone in the family becomes inexplicably sick, the Montgomery County Department of Health wants to talk with you about both.

The department is circulating a memo from the state, released Thursday (Feb. 16, 2017), warning about outbreaks of Seoul virus infections carried by domestically bred rats sold as pets. People who become infected with the virus “often exhibit relatively mild or no symptoms,” the document stated, but in rare cases some people “will develop a form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome” that can cause death.

There’s no indication yet that human Seoul virus infections are a problem in Pennsylvania, but the memo noted the state does not regulate rat purchases or transfers. Health agencies are being cautious, it added, by “investigating the possibility that rats from affected states (currently Wisconsin and Illinois) are have been sent to locations in Pennsylvania.”

For more information, or to report a related illness, call the county at 610-278-5117.

The California-based Rat Assistance And Teaching Society estimates that about a half-million U.S. households own rats as pets. And “contrary to what many people believe, pet rats are not the dirty, disease-infested creatures of folklore,” according to Huffington Post veterinary columnist Dr. Karen Becker. “Domestic rats are affectionate, clean, sensitive, and easy to train,” she’s said.

Photo from Google Images

Article source: http://sanatogapost.com/2017/02/21/pet-rat-montco-health-offers-warning/

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Own A Pet Rat? MontCo Health Offers Warning

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 21, 2017 in Rat News
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NORRISTOWN PA – If your family owns a rat as a pet, and someone in the family becomes inexplicably sick, the Montgomery County Department of Health wants to talk with you about both.

The department is circulating a memo from the state, released Thursday (Feb. 16, 2017), warning about outbreaks of Seoul virus infections carried by domestically bred rats sold as pets. People who become infected with the virus “often exhibit relatively mild or no symptoms,” the document stated, but in rare cases some people “will develop a form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome” that can cause death.

There’s no indication yet that human Seoul virus infections are a problem in Pennsylvania, but the memo noted the state does not regulate rat purchases or transfers. Health agencies are being cautious, it added, by “investigating the possibility that rats from affected states (currently Wisconsin and Illinois) are have been sent to locations in Pennsylvania.”

For more information, or to report a related illness, call the county at 610-278-5117.

The California-based Rat Assistance And Teaching Society estimates that about a half-million U.S. households own rats as pets. And “contrary to what many people believe, pet rats are not the dirty, disease-infested creatures of folklore,” according to Huffington Post veterinary columnist Dr. Karen Becker. “Domestic rats are affectionate, clean, sensitive, and easy to train,” she’s said.

Photo from Google Images

Article source: http://sanatogapost.com/2017/02/21/pet-rat-montco-health-offers-warning/

Tags: , , , , ,

Own A Pet Rat? MontCo Health Offers Warning

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 21, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

NORRISTOWN PA – If your family owns a rat as a pet, and someone in the family becomes inexplicably sick, the Montgomery County Department of Health wants to talk with you about both.

The department is circulating a memo from the state, released Thursday (Feb. 16, 2017), warning about outbreaks of Seoul virus infections carried by domestically bred rats sold as pets. People who become infected with the virus “often exhibit relatively mild or no symptoms,” the document stated, but in rare cases some people “will develop a form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome” that can cause death.

There’s no indication yet that human Seoul virus infections are a problem in Pennsylvania, but the memo noted the state does not regulate rat purchases or transfers. Health agencies are being cautious, it added, by “investigating the possibility that rats from affected states (currently Wisconsin and Illinois) are have been sent to locations in Pennsylvania.”

For more information, or to report a related illness, call the county at 610-278-5117.

The California-based Rat Assistance And Teaching Society estimates that about a half-million U.S. households own rats as pets. And “contrary to what many people believe, pet rats are not the dirty, disease-infested creatures of folklore,” according to Huffington Post veterinary columnist Dr. Karen Becker. “Domestic rats are affectionate, clean, sensitive, and easy to train,” she’s said.

Photo from Google Images

Article source: http://sanatogapost.com/2017/02/21/pet-rat-montco-health-offers-warning/

Tags: , , , , ,

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