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
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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/

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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
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/

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Pet Talk: UI experts discuss Seoul virus – Champaign/Urbana News

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 20, 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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Rats ‘really quite sweet’

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 19, 2017 in Rat News
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Sudburians help animals after they were rescued from North Bay home

 

More than half the rats seized from a North Bay apartment before Christmas have now found homes, with many Sudburians among the takers.

About 600 pet rats were removed from the hoarding situation in late December and placed among a variety of SPCA shelters and humane societies in the province, with some of the rats finding temporary refuge at the Sudbury SPCA.

Then a popular pet store chain got involved.

“To help us find loving homes for our little friends, PetSmart hosted a rat adopt-a-thon, sponsored by PetSmart Charities, at a number of stores across the province from Jan. 21 to Feb. 12,” the SPCA states in a release. “Thanks to their support, over 350 rats found new homes!”

The PetSmart store in Sudbury was one of those outlets to accept rat refugees and place them with good owners.

“We adopted out 30 of them,” says Heather Howard, manager of pet care at the Silver Hills store. “We brought in 10 to 12 at a time, and had them almost a month.”

Howard says she had to pluck a “gigantic cage” off a shelf to house the long-tailed waifs, and be extra careful in screening potential takers.

“I wanted them to have a good home and make sure they weren’t going to be fed to snakes and other reptiles,” she says.

The store already sells rats as pets, and usually charges $12.99 per animal, but in this case “I put it at $14 to make sure they were going to good houses,” she says.

People who bought rats were aware of the situation they’d come from, says Howard, and that played into their decision to adopt one.

“People want to help,” she says. “Sudbury is pretty wonderful for that.”

The local PetSmart already has a relationship with the SPCA, facilitating adoptions of cats and sometimes rabbits every other month.

The rat influx was rather unusual, Howard admits, but she says it felt good to be part of the adoption blitz.

“It was a little bit more work but PetSmart is big on finding forever homes for animals so we didn’t hesitate,” she says. “We found some 30 rats homes, so it was worth it.”

The animals get a bad rap, Howard believes, in part because of their appearance.

“People have a hard time with the tail,” she says. “But anyone who has one as a pet loves them. You can teach them to come when you call them and fetch things. They’re extremely intelligent and eager to please.”

They can also reproduce quickly, however, as was obvious from the situation the North Bay resident — a 51-year-old woman, who was charged by the SPCA with four counts of animal cruelty– found herself in.

“Usually you only have one gender because two rats can easily turn into 100,” notes Howard. “We only brought in females here.”

Some of those were pregnant, she says, “because they were housed loose in the apartment” in North Bay. “It was a bit harder to find them homes, but we did it.”

Rats are social animals and like to be among their own kind, she says, “so we didn’t adopt out any that weren’t in a pair.”

They warm up to their owners, too.

“They’re very sweet and bond with you quite easily,” says Howard, who has owned rats in the past. “I have one customer who comes in with one in the hood of her sweater. It won’t run away.”

Howard expects the store will wind up with another batch of rescued rats, as the SPCA still “has lots right now that have babies, and you can’t take them away from the moms.”

In the meantime, she’s happy to have found a place for the roughly three dozen that have come through the PetSmart door.

“It’s wonderful how it worked out,” she says. “We’d do it again in a second.”

jmoodie@postmedia.com 

Article source: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2017/02/16/rats-really-quite-sweet

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Health officials confirm case of Seoul virus in Utah County

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 18, 2017 in Rat News
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PROVO — The Utah County Health Department and Utah Department of Health confirmed Tuesday a local case of Seoul virus infection, which has popped up in 14 other states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus is a rare type of hantavirus carried by rats and a case in Utah County is related to pet rats, according to the Utah County Health Department. CDC officials said last week the source of the virus comes from a pet breeding facility and that rats in Utah were among states where rats might be infected.

The CDC first announced back on Jan. 18 that eight people had been infected with the virus in Illinois and Wisconsin. Since then cases have spread throughout the midwest and southeast U.S. and into Colorado and Utah.

The CDC recommended that those who have had recent or current illness after handling rats should get their blood tested.

Symptoms of the virus may include fever, intense headache, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, nausea, flushing of the face, rash and inflammation and redness of the eyes. Those symptoms may vary from person to person, according to the CDC.

Symptoms typically begin within one to two weeks of exposure to the virus. While most symptoms of the virus are minor, Utah Department of Health officials said it has the possibility of leading to kidney failure.

Officials suggested owners of pet rats or anyone who comes into contact with the rodent should wash their hands thoroughly with soap after handling rats, keep animals away from where food is served or where people might bathe. Gloves and a face mask are also suggested for any cleaning, disinfecting bedding and covering any cuts or scratches before handling a pet.

Carter Williams

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Pet rat owners nervous about rat-to-human virus probed in …

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 18, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

It’s been almost three weeks since a team of veterinarians and health officials wearing hazmat suits came into Debbie Fratini’s Chicago-area home and killed all 31 of her beloved pet rats.

Although Fratini said at the time that she knew it was the right thing to do, she is still heartbroken.

The culprit is Seoul virus, a type of hantavirus that can be transmitted from pet rats to humans. The outbreak first came to attention in December and is believed to have started in Illinois and Wisconsin. Minnesota now is one of 15 states being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health officials.

Pet rat owners and breeders in the Twin Cities area have been alarmed and frightened since last month, when reports and rumors began circulating on rat forums, blogs and websites that their pets might be confiscated and killed.

Amy Pass of Minneapolis has two pet rats: Sonnet and Haiku. Both were purchased from a Twin Cities breeder whose rats have since tested negative for the virus. “I’m having a hard time knowing how concerned to be,” she said Thursday. “Nobody’s been sick in our house.”

Still, Pass is making sure to follow the CDC’s precautions, such as washing hands after handling the rats and keeping cages, bedding and toys away from areas where food is served or people bathe.

Pass said rats make great pets. “They’re like little puppies,” she said. “They have personalities and they have affection for you. You get to know their little quirks.”

The CDC said the general public is at “extremely low risk” from the Seoul virus, which cannot pass from person to person. Only a few cases of actual illness have been reported in the United States. Symptoms are similar to the flu and may include fever, severe headache, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, redness of the eyes or rash.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) issued a statement in late January saying that no human Seoul infections have been reported here. MDH spokesman Doug Schultz said the situation in Minnesota appears to be confined to three breeders who received rats from facilities in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Two of those three ratteries tested negative for the virus, he said. A couple of rats at a breeder in Wright County tested positive. Those rats were killed and further testing is ongoing. The rattery is under quarantine “until no positive rats are found,” Schultz said. Veterinarians and health care providers have been alerted about the virus, he said.

The Wright County breeder, who was not identified by the Health Department, appears to be Rat Palooza in Howard Lake. On its Facebook page, the owner wrote Thursday that, “The Rattery is having all 66 rats tested today for the Seoul virus. Fingers crossed everyone is negative and this quarantine can be lifted off soon.”

Nikki Stonerr runs Disco’s Rats in Chaska.

“This virus is a huge blow to the pet rat community,” she said in an email. “We have been trying to educate people on how great of pets rats can make, and with the media portraying rats as dirty, disease-infested creatures, this hurts the rat business, rat breeders and rat owners. Our beloved pets are not wild animals, they are part of our family.

“This is a case of a pet rat breeder being uncautious about quarantine rules when bringing in new animals and mixing wild rats with pet ones, which should not be done,” she wrote.

A Wisconsin woman who breeds pet rats became ill in December and was hospitalized. Doctors there notified the CDC, which traced the virus to two breeders in Illinois, both of whom had sold rats to the Wisconsin woman.

Humans can show no signs of illness but still test positive for antibodies to the virus. Infected rats do not become sick, but can shed the virus through urine, feces and saliva for many months.

Fratini said she has been breeding rats for 16 years and bought three from an infected rattery in November.

She didn’t get sick, but doctors found virus antibodies in her blood from both short-term and long-term exposure, she said, and was told that if any of her rats tested positive, all would be killed. Rather than subject them to testing, she agreed to have them killed.

“I was falling apart, crying, these are my pets,” she said.

Now Fratini is angry, too. The policy was apparently changed to spare, quarantine and retest rats that test negative for the virus.

For more information on the Seoul virus, go to http://bit.ly/2kY2fWm.

 

Article source: http://www.startribune.com/pet-rat-owners-nervous-about-rat-to-human-virus/414024003/

Tags: , , , , ,

Pet rat owners nervous about rat-to-human virus probed in …

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 18, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

It’s been almost three weeks since a team of veterinarians and health officials wearing hazmat suits came into Debbie Fratini’s Chicago-area home and killed all 31 of her beloved pet rats.

Although Fratini said at the time that she knew it was the right thing to do, she is still heartbroken.

The culprit is Seoul virus, a type of hantavirus that can be transmitted from pet rats to humans. The outbreak first came to attention in December and is believed to have started in Illinois and Wisconsin. Minnesota now is one of 15 states being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health officials.

Pet rat owners and breeders in the Twin Cities area have been alarmed and frightened since last month, when reports and rumors began circulating on rat forums, blogs and websites that their pets might be confiscated and killed.

Amy Pass of Minneapolis has two pet rats: Sonnet and Haiku. Both were purchased from a Twin Cities breeder whose rats have since tested negative for the virus. “I’m having a hard time knowing how concerned to be,” she said Thursday. “Nobody’s been sick in our house.”

Still, Pass is making sure to follow the CDC’s precautions, such as washing hands after handling the rats and keeping cages, bedding and toys away from areas where food is served or people bathe.

Pass said rats make great pets. “They’re like little puppies,” she said. “They have personalities and they have affection for you. You get to know their little quirks.”

The CDC said the general public is at “extremely low risk” from the Seoul virus, which cannot pass from person to person. Only a few cases of actual illness have been reported in the United States. Symptoms are similar to the flu and may include fever, severe headache, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, redness of the eyes or rash.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) issued a statement in late January saying that no human Seoul infections have been reported here. MDH spokesman Doug Schultz said the situation in Minnesota appears to be confined to three breeders who received rats from facilities in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Two of those three ratteries tested negative for the virus, he said. A couple of rats at a breeder in Wright County tested positive. Those rats were killed and further testing is ongoing. The rattery is under quarantine “until no positive rats are found,” Schultz said. Veterinarians and health care providers have been alerted about the virus, he said.

The Wright County breeder, who was not identified by the Health Department, appears to be Rat Palooza in Howard Lake. On its Facebook page, the owner wrote Thursday that, “The Rattery is having all 66 rats tested today for the Seoul virus. Fingers crossed everyone is negative and this quarantine can be lifted off soon.”

Nikki Stonerr runs Disco’s Rats in Chaska.

“This virus is a huge blow to the pet rat community,” she said in an email. “We have been trying to educate people on how great of pets rats can make, and with the media portraying rats as dirty, disease-infested creatures, this hurts the rat business, rat breeders and rat owners. Our beloved pets are not wild animals, they are part of our family.

“This is a case of a pet rat breeder being uncautious about quarantine rules when bringing in new animals and mixing wild rats with pet ones, which should not be done,” she wrote.

A Wisconsin woman who breeds pet rats became ill in December and was hospitalized. Doctors there notified the CDC, which traced the virus to two breeders in Illinois, both of whom had sold rats to the Wisconsin woman.

Humans can show no signs of illness but still test positive for antibodies to the virus. Infected rats do not become sick, but can shed the virus through urine, feces and saliva for many months.

Fratini said she has been breeding rats for 16 years and bought three from an infected rattery in November.

She didn’t get sick, but doctors found virus antibodies in her blood from both short-term and long-term exposure, she said, and was told that if any of her rats tested positive, all would be killed. Rather than subject them to testing, she agreed to have them killed.

“I was falling apart, crying, these are my pets,” she said.

Now Fratini is angry, too. The policy was apparently changed to spare, quarantine and retest rats that test negative for the virus.

For more information on the Seoul virus, go to http://bit.ly/2kY2fWm.

 

Article source: http://www.startribune.com/pet-rat-owners-nervous-about-rat-to-human-virus/414024003/

Tags: , , , , ,

Pet rat owners nervous about rat-to-human virus probed in …

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 18, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

It’s been almost three weeks since a team of veterinarians and health officials wearing hazmat suits came into Debbie Fratini’s Chicago-area home and killed all 31 of her beloved pet rats.

Although Fratini said at the time that she knew it was the right thing to do, she is still heartbroken.

The culprit is Seoul virus, a type of hantavirus that can be transmitted from pet rats to humans. The outbreak first came to attention in December and is believed to have started in Illinois and Wisconsin. Minnesota now is one of 15 states being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health officials.

Pet rat owners and breeders in the Twin Cities area have been alarmed and frightened since last month, when reports and rumors began circulating on rat forums, blogs and websites that their pets might be confiscated and killed.

Amy Pass of Minneapolis has two pet rats: Sonnet and Haiku. Both were purchased from a Twin Cities breeder whose rats have since tested negative for the virus. “I’m having a hard time knowing how concerned to be,” she said Thursday. “Nobody’s been sick in our house.”

Still, Pass is making sure to follow the CDC’s precautions, such as washing hands after handling the rats and keeping cages, bedding and toys away from areas where food is served or people bathe.

Pass said rats make great pets. “They’re like little puppies,” she said. “They have personalities and they have affection for you. You get to know their little quirks.”

The CDC said the general public is at “extremely low risk” from the Seoul virus, which cannot pass from person to person. Only a few cases of actual illness have been reported in the United States. Symptoms are similar to the flu and may include fever, severe headache, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, redness of the eyes or rash.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) issued a statement in late January saying that no human Seoul infections have been reported here. MDH spokesman Doug Schultz said the situation in Minnesota appears to be confined to three breeders who received rats from facilities in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Two of those three ratteries tested negative for the virus, he said. A couple of rats at a breeder in Wright County tested positive. Those rats were killed and further testing is ongoing. The rattery is under quarantine “until no positive rats are found,” Schultz said. Veterinarians and health care providers have been alerted about the virus, he said.

The Wright County breeder, who was not identified by the Health Department, appears to be Rat Palooza in Howard Lake. On its Facebook page, the owner wrote Thursday that, “The Rattery is having all 66 rats tested today for the Seoul virus. Fingers crossed everyone is negative and this quarantine can be lifted off soon.”

Nikki Stonerr runs Disco’s Rats in Chaska.

“This virus is a huge blow to the pet rat community,” she said in an email. “We have been trying to educate people on how great of pets rats can make, and with the media portraying rats as dirty, disease-infested creatures, this hurts the rat business, rat breeders and rat owners. Our beloved pets are not wild animals, they are part of our family.

“This is a case of a pet rat breeder being uncautious about quarantine rules when bringing in new animals and mixing wild rats with pet ones, which should not be done,” she wrote.

A Wisconsin woman who breeds pet rats became ill in December and was hospitalized. Doctors there notified the CDC, which traced the virus to two breeders in Illinois, both of whom had sold rats to the Wisconsin woman.

Humans can show no signs of illness but still test positive for antibodies to the virus. Infected rats do not become sick, but can shed the virus through urine, feces and saliva for many months.

Fratini said she has been breeding rats for 16 years and bought three from an infected rattery in November.

She didn’t get sick, but doctors found virus antibodies in her blood from both short-term and long-term exposure, she said, and was told that if any of her rats tested positive, all would be killed. Rather than subject them to testing, she agreed to have them killed.

“I was falling apart, crying, these are my pets,” she said.

Now Fratini is angry, too. The policy was apparently changed to spare, quarantine and retest rats that test negative for the virus.

For more information on the Seoul virus, go to http://bit.ly/2kY2fWm.

 

Article source: http://www.startribune.com/pet-rat-owners-nervous-about-rat-to-human-virus/414024003/

Tags: , , , , ,

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