Causes of a Seoul virus infection

Explore the cause of Seoul virus infections, how the virus is spread and where it is found. 

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What is Seoul virus

Seoul virus is a type of hantavirus. Infection with Seoul virus is known to cause a mild to moderate illness that is rarely fatal. The vast majority of people will experience only mild illness. In rare cases, people may develop a severe form of infection known as hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), and an estimated 1-2% of people who develop HFRS may die.

Where is Seoul virus and how does it spread?

Seoul virus is found worldwide. It is carried and spread by rodents, specifically the brown or Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus). The virus has been found in both pet rats and wild rat populations around the world.

People can become infected with this virus after coming in contact with urine, feces, or saliva of infected rodents. When fresh rodent urine, feces, or nesting materials are stirred up (for example, when vacuuming or sweeping or when cleaning cages of pet rats), tiny particles containing the virus get into the air. This process is known as “aerosolization”. You may become infected when you breathe in these contaminated materials. You may also become infected when the urine or these other materials containing the virus get directly into a cut or other broken skin or into your eyes, nose, or mouth. In addition, people who work with live rodents can get the Seoul virus through bites from infected animals.

Seoul virus is not known to be spread from person to person.

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