Health officials are investigating outbreak of rare rat virus in MN

13 people in eight states have gotten sick.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Minnesota is among the states where health officials are investigating a rare rat virus.

The Seoul virus – a rare type of hantavirus carried by wild Norway rats across the world – was first reported last month, with health officials saying eight people in Illinois and Wisconsin were infected after being exposed to rodents at breeding facilities.

The two people in Wisconsin got sick while operating home-based rat breeding – their rats traced back to two ratteries in Illinois, where six people had tested positive for the Seoul virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Lab tests have now confirmed 13 human cases of the Seoul virus, the CDC said in an update Thursday, noting there are eight states – including Minnesota – where humans or rats have tested positive for the virus.

The Star Tribune reports no human cases have been reported in Minnesota as of the end of January, but the outbreak has put rat owners and breeders in the Twin Cities on high alert.

Minnesota is among the 16 states with ratteries that are being investigated by the CDC and local health officials, the CDC says. Local health officials told the Star Tribune the outbreak here seems to be contained to three breeders that got their rats from suppliers in Wisconsin and Illinois – two of them tested negative for the virus.

The Rat Palooza Rattery in Wright County posted on its Facebook page earlier this month saying two of its rats tested positive for the virus, so it was put on quarantine until all of its rats test negative for the virus. On Thursday, the rattery gave an update saying it tested all 66 of its rats, but it will have to wait two weeks for the results.

About the Seoul virus

The Seoul virus is a rare form of of hantavirus – really, any form of hantavirus is pretty rare in the U.S.

Hantavirus is typically spread by rodents – however infected rats will likely look healthy. People can get sick having contact with, or being in close proximity to infected rodents, or their urine and droppings. You can also get it from being bitten by an infected animal. It’s not spread from person to person, though.

The U.S. had it’s first known hantavirus outbreak in 1993, and several otherwise healthy people died from it. But that was a totally different form of the disease called Sin Nombre.

According to the CDC, the Seoul virus only has a 1 percent mortality rate, compared to the Sin Nombre virus’ 50 percent.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says symptoms may include fever, chills, nausea, intense headaches, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, redness of the eyes, flushed face, or rash. In severe cases, infection can lead to renal disease. However, some people don’t experience any symptoms.

Of the cases reported in Wisconsin and Illinois last month, one person was hospitalized, but has since recovered, and five of the six people infected in Illinois showed no signs of illness.

If you’ve had contact with rats recently obtained from a rat breeder and are experiencing any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

Wisconsin health officials recommend practicing good hygiene with pets, like washing your hands after playing. You can get more tips here and here.

Next Up

Taylor Rogers

Twins Rumors: Taylor Rogers could draw interest despite injury

The left-hander was placed on the injured list on Tuesday.

E7WFMKZUcAIbzNf

Severe storm watch: Apple-sized hail, 75 mph winds possible

A watch has been issued by the National Weather Service.

Screen Shot 2021-07-27 at 7.28.06 PM

Slain Red Lake officer identified as husband, father-of-four

Police say he was shot while responding to a report of a suicidal male who possibly had children the house.

Go Fund Me - Adam Richard Johnson

Remains in Mississippi mark 4th discovery of man's dismembered body parts

Officials on Tuesday confirmed the remains found July 4 are those of Adam Johnson.

Facebook - GoGo dog stolen vehicle -  St. Paul Police Department

Missing dog GoGo found dead in owner's stolen vehicle 3 days later

The vehicle was reported stolen with GoGo inside on July 18

Flickr - face masks covid pole - Ivan Radic

The 14 MN counties with 'substantial or high' COVID-19 transmission

The CDC says everyone in these areas should wear a mask in indoor public places.

Pexels - woman grocery shopping mask covi

CDC: Masks recommended in places with 'substantial or high' transmission

This new guidance applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

Screen Shot 2021-07-27 at 1.10.29 PM

WATCH: Vikings Live with Matthew Coller: Welcome to training camp

Vikings Live with Matthew Coller is a new Vikings show that streams Tuesdays.

YouTube - Minnesota DNR - watering tree

Tips for watering trees during severe drought, sprinkler restrictions

How can you keep your valued trees healthy? Just follow these simple steps.

police tape, crime scene

Minnesota saw record number of murders in 2020, BCA says

The BCA released its annual Uniform Crime Report on Tuesday.

Flickr - Red Lake Nation sign - Ken Lund

Red Lake police officer fatally shot on Tuesday

The officer was reportedly shot near Redby.

Related

doctor, blood work, needle

Health officials declare Hepatitis A outbreak in Minnesota

13 people have been hospitalized as a result.

Virus infested rats have sickened several people in Wisconsin and Illinois

The mild form of hantavirus has been linked to rat breeding facilities in Illinois.

Raccoons carrying incurable virus that infects dogs reported in 5 MN counties

Pet owners have been warned to keep their dogs away from dead or sick wildlife.

mosquito (1)

Horse dies from rare virus, a sign mosquitos in MN are carrying it

EEE is a rare virus spread by mosquitos that can infect humans.

coronavirus

MN health officials criticize CDC change to COVID-19 testing guidelines

The MDH wants asymptomatic people who may have been exposed to get tested.

Cyclospora outbreak has now sickened more than 200 people

People who have eaten Del Monte veggie trays have gotten sick.