CDC continues to work with Illinois, Wisconsin, and with the potentially affected states, to investigate an outbreak of Seoul virus infections among ten people in Illinois, Wisconsin, who were exposed to infected rats in several rat-breeding facilities in those three states. No additional infections in people have been reported.
As of February 6th, the following states have been notified that that their residents may have infected rats:
- South Carolina
CDC is working with state health authorities to try to locate the rats and any people who may have been exposed to them in these states and test both people and rats for Seoul virus.
CDC’s current recommendations are:
1. CDC currently recommends blood testing for all people who report recent or current illness after:
- handling rats from a facility with laboratory-confirmed Seoul virus infection in either humans or rats, or
- handling rats from a facility that sold rats to a facility with Seoul virus infection.
Testing is also offered to persons with exposure to rats from a facility with Seoul virus infection that was confirmed by laboratory testing, or to persons with exposure to rats from a facility that sold rats to a facility with Seoul virus infection but where no illness was reported. All testing should be coordinated with the healthcare provider’s local or state health department.
2. People with potentially infected rats should not sell, trade, or release their rats. They should contact their state health department with any questions. Healthcare providers should emphasize the importance of safe animal practices with their patients.
3. Health care providers may also consider blood testing of patients with symptoms suggestive of Seoul virus infection and a history of rat contact, regardless of whether there is known interaction with rats or rat facilities with laboratory-confirmed Seoul virus infections.
The investigation continues and we will be updating this page as we learn more.
Two CDC epidemiologists arrived in Wisconsin on Jan. 18 to support the response efforts of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Illinois Department of Health. The CDC team will assist with trace-out investigations of clients who purchased rats from, or were otherwise exposed to, the home rat-breeding facilities, and will participate in trace-back investigation of facilities where the patient recently purchased rats. These efforts will help determine how the individuals were exposed to Seoul virus and allow public health officials to take actions needed to prevent potential future spread of the virus. CDC will also assist with testing blood samples from people and rats who may be infected with Seoul virus.
CDC encourages all pet owners and people who come in contact with rodents to practice healthy habits – handwashing, avoiding bites and scratches, providing routine veterinary care – to keep themselves and their pets healthy. See the CDC website Healthy Pets Healthy People.