A virus rarely seen in the United States recently infected eight people in Wisconsin and IL who were working in facilities where pet rats are bred, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is reporting two cases of the Seoul virus in people who had direct exposure to facilities in northeastern Wisconsin where rats are bred.
All eight people had direct contact with the rats and picked up the Seoul virus - which can cause flu like symptoms and renal disease in the most severe cases. Not everyone experiences symptoms.
Wisconsin, Illinois and federal health officials are investigating the source of the virus. Both people in Wisconsin recovered from the infections.
The Seoul virus is known to infect a species of rat called the Norway rat (also known as the brown rat) all over the world. The CDC said it has deployed two epidemiologists to work with local and state health authorities to determine if any customers who bought rats have become ill. Six cases were reported in IL. None of the ratteries involved are now selling rats.