As some of you might have heard, Wisconsin and Illinois have reported 8 people infected with a virus that is rarely seen in the United States and when it has been seen, it has only been in the wild rat population. You can find the Seoul Virus in the Norway rat all over the world. There have been reports of people catching it, but most have occurred in Asia. This is the first time in the United States, Seoul Virus has been linked with pet rats. Since the virus cannot spread from person to person, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) wanted to bring this issue to the public eye in case anyone had purchased rats from the affected ratteries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are now working with the ratteries involved trying to track the origin of this virus.
SEOUL VIRUS SYMPTOMS: The CDC says that people can develop fever, severe headaches, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, red eyes, or a rash. (In rare cases it can develop into more serious symptoms that can lead to hospitalization.) However some people infected with the virus won’t show any symptoms at all. The IDPH said, all eight people infected have recovered and five out of the six people in Illinois who tested positive for the virus did not show symptoms.
Our objective is not to start rumors, or feed into the news' cycle of panic. Even though we are not involved with the investigation or personally know the people involved, we feel terrible for those who have lost all of their pet/ and breeding rats due to this virus. The virus does not usually show symptoms in the rat but to protect the public the CDC had to cull all the rats involved. The best up to date information you can get will be from the CDC. Here is their most recent press release to date.
If you live in the areas affected, and are concerned because you have recently added a rat to your mischief, contact the breeder where you obtained your rats from. Without more information, we all will have to wait for the CDC to finish their investigation. In the meantime, as with all animals in your home, I urge you to continue to practice good animal husbandry with your rats.
- Always wash your hands after handling your pet rats, or cleaning their cages.
- Do not clean the animals' cages or supplies in your kitchen or other areas where you prepare food.
- I would encourage you to not let your rats roam freely where ‘wilds’ may have been such as parks, or even in a unsecured basement or other places you have seen evidence of ‘wilds’.
- If you see ‘abandoned’ wild rat babies LEAVE THEM! Not only is it risky for you to bring a wild into your home but most likely mama is off foraging for food. Having observed several of the litters in our mischief, I can assure you, the mama likes to be off the nest more often than on after about a week old. This could be hours between feedings.