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Hantavirus (Seoul virus) in pet rats: a zoonotic viral threat
  1. Lorraine McElhinney1,
  2. Anthony R. Fooks1,
  3. Charlotte Featherstone2,
  4. Robert Smith3 and
  5. Dilys Morgan4
  1. 1Animal and Plant Health Agency, Woodham Lane, New Haw, Surrey KT15 3NB, e-mail:
  2. 2Animal and Plant Health Agency, Thirsk Veterinary Investigation Centre, West House, Station Road, Thirsk, North Yorkshire YO7 1PZ
  3. 3Public Health Wales, Health Protection Division, Temple of Peace and Health, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NW
  4. 4National Infections Service, Public Health England, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ

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COLLEAGUES may be aware that a small number of human cases of acute kidney injury associated with hantavirus infection has been recorded in individuals who recreationally or occupationally handle rats in the UK. The UK public health authorities continue to investigate these cases in collaboration with the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Pet rats (including ‘fancy rats’), breeder rats and wild rats have been identified as the potential source of infection. The human cases had documented exposure to rats resulting in the probable transmission of the rat-associated hantavirus, Seoul virus (SEOV).

Hantaviruses (family Bunyaviridae, genus Hantavirus) are single-stranded RNA viruses. Unlike other members of the Bunyaviridae, hantaviruses are not transmitted by arthropods but are predominantly transmitted by rodents. Throughout Europe, six rodent-borne hantaviruses have been described, of …

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