Tennessee among eleven states with confirmed rat-borne virus reported in humans or rats
NASHVILLE, Tenn.--The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 17 people in 7 states have been infected with the rat-borne Seoul virus.
The newest data also reflects 11 states, including Tennessee, have reported laboratory-confirmed Seoul virus positive results for humans or rats. The Tennessee Department of Health reports there have not been any confirmed human cases in the state, though two ratteries in the state have had positive tests in rats.
Tennessee joins Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin among those reporting positive test results in rats or humans. Tennessee is also among the states with facilities under investigation, as the TDH and CDC report.
Rats, (both wild and pets) can carry the virus which is passed to humans via a rat bite or by coming into contact with infected rodent saliva, urine, or droppings. The CDC says when fresh rodent urine or nesting materials are stirred up via vacuuming or sweeping, tiny particles containing the virus can become airborne. If inhaled, a human can become infected.
Humans infected by the Seoul virus often exhibit mild or no disease, but some could develop a form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome that can cause death in 1-2% of cases. Typical symptoms include fever, vomiting, headache, back or abdominal pain, blurred vision, rash, and inflammation or redness of the eyes.
The CDC is recommending blood testing for anyone who has handled or come into contact with rats and have reported a recent or current illness. The latest data reflects an increase in February statistics which reported 10 human infections and 14 states under investigation.