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Prevalence of Seoul hantavirus in UK wild rats: an emerging public health problem?
  1. Jacqueline M. Duggan
  1. Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory, National Infections Service, Public Health England, Porton Down, UK
  1. email: Jackie.duggan{at}phe.gov.uk

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Seoul hantavirus (SEOV) is an emerging zoonotic pathogen in the UK. SEOV is transmitted from infected rats to people via inhalation of aerosolised virus in rat urine and faeces. Infected rats are asymptomatic and are likely to remain persistently infected while intermittently excreting the virus throughout their life.1

The virus was first identified in laboratory rats in Scotland in 1977.2 Since this time, a number of serosurveillance studies in the UK have shown serological evidence of exposure to hantaviruses.3 From these studies, the main risk factor for hantavirus infection was thought to be occupational exposure, particularly for those working in rural areas (eg, agricultural workers), pest control workers and sewage workers.

In these studies, those testing positive for antibodies to hantaviruses reported mild symptoms such as flu-like symptoms and sore throat, with some exhibiting minor liver and kidney impairment. However, as the diagnostic tests measure only the level of circulating antibodies, the causative hantavirus in each case could not be determined.

In 2012, haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), which is caused by hantavirus, was diagnosed in a pig farmer who owned farms in North …

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