US health officials are issuing a health warning to the general public to be cautious around rats after Seoul virus outbreak have been officially announced affecting 15 US states. A rat breeding facility in El Paso County has been closely linked to the ensuing outbreak of the rodent-borne virus. County public health officials have confirmed two of the human cases infected by the virus have come from the El Paso breeding facility.
The infected rats from the facility reportedly originated from breeding facilities in Illinois. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infected rats that cause the Seoul virus outbreak are also in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
According to CDC, infection with Seoul virus occurs after coming in contact with the infected rat's urine, droppings, or saliva. People are warned that when fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are disturbed through vacuuming or sweeping, for example, tiny particles containing the virus get spread into the air. Infection occurs when the person breathes in these contaminated materials, the KRDO reports.
If you have broken skin, or cuts, be careful to protect these openings from infected rat urine. The virus may also get into your eyes, nose, or mouth. In addition, people who work with live rodents are cautioned not to get bitten from these infected animals, El Paso County public health says in a statement, The Gazette reports.
So far, none of the Seoul virus human cases have been known to spread from person to person. Diagnosis of the infection requires a blood test. Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, nausea, and rashes - and, in rare cases, kidney disease, kidney failure or both.
The CDC have advised anyone who has had contact with rats recently, and experienced symptoms to immediately call their healthcare provider. The public is also recommended to practice hygiene and sanitizing their surroundings from possible rat droppings. The Seoul virus outbreak can be easily purged as long as people follow health officials' instructions.