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article imageSeoul hantavirus has reached the Netherlands

By Tim Sandle     Feb 17, 2015 in Health
Scientists have reported evidence of Seoul hantavirus (SEOV) in the rat population in the Netherlands. Other reports suggest that the virus has occurred in other European countries, including the U.K.
Hantaviruses belong to the bunyavirus family of viruses. The virus is named for the Hantan River area in South Korea where an early outbreak was observed. Different strains of the virus are named after different cities or regions in the world (such as the Hantaan, Puumala and Seoul viruses.)
To cause infection, the virus links up to cells and penetrates through. The virus has an association with rats. The big concern with the virus is the risk of the virus spreading to humans via rats (several reports suggest that this can and does happen.) Infection with hantavirus can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which can be fatal. The disease can also trigger Ebolalike hemorrhagic fever and kidney failure in humans.
Rodent control is regarded as the best means for preventing hantavirus infection. This is effective to a degree, however rat urine remains a risk factor. In addition, of the different forms of the virus, Seoul hantavirus (SEOV) has been reported in previous research as the one of greatest concern, given that it has both the potential world-wide distribution and the theoretical ability to infect humans.
SEOV is primarily carried by brown and the black rats. These rats are common to urban areas and farms. For this reason, most epidemiology around the disease is focused on tracking rats. With the new research, infected rats were found by Dutch water management employees in traps they routinely set to capture muskrats.
Some of the captured rats captured were sent to the Dutch Zoonosis Science Centre. Here the rats were tested for presence of the virus. Here SEOV, previously undetected in the Netherlands, was confirmed.
The findings have been published in the journal Infection, Ecology & Epidemiology, in a report called “First evidence of Seoul hantavirus in the wild rat population in the Netherlands.”
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