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CDC: Outbreak in 12 states due to rats carrying virus transmittable to humans

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating an outbreak of a virus transmitted by rats which could affect Tennessee and several other states. PHOTO: MGN - WZTV FOX 17 Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating an outbreak of a virus transmitted by rats which could affect at least 12 states.

According to the CDC, health officials in 12 states are investigating an outbreak of the Seoul virus. 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 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.

Officials say the outbreak has infected eight people in Illinois and Wisconsin. The outbreak is believed to have started at a home-based rat breeding facility in Wisconsin. Another six people at two different Illinois ratteries also tested positive.

"Potentially infected rodents may have been distributed or received in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin."

Anyone with questions on the virus can call the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO.

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