Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy announced that one pet rat in a Pennsylvania home-based breeding facility has tested positive for the Seoul virus.
The infected Pennsylvania rat was purchased from a Tennessee breeding facility with confirmed Seoul virus infections. The remaining rats in the Pennsylvania facility were humanely euthanized to prevent further spread of the disease.
No human infections of Seoul virus have been confirmed in Pennsylvania at this time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, reports there are currently 13 human infections nationwide from this outbreak.
“We are working very closely with the CDC to monitor any Seoul virus activity and prevent further exposure,” Secretary Murphy said. “If you have pet rats you feel could be infected, or if you or your loved ones have been in contact with pet rats and have any symptoms of Seoul virus, you should contact the department at 1-877-PA-HEALTH. While this virus is spread only through infected rats, the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians is our priority.”
Symptoms may include fever, severe headache, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, redness of the eyes, or rash. In severe cases, infection can also lead to acute renal disease.
Seoul virus is carried by wild Norway rats worldwide. People usually become infected when they come in contact with infectious body fluids (blood, saliva, urine) from infected rats or are bitten by them. The virus is not spread between people and cannot be transmitted to or from other types of pets.