Seoul Virus

What is Seoul Virus Infection?

Seoul virus is a type of hantavirus. Some people who develop the virus do not have symptoms at all or have very mild symptoms. However, some will develop a form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) with death in approximately 1-2% of cases (1-2 in 100).

Where is it found and how does it spread?

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

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

How do people get infected with Seoul virus?

Infection can occur after coming into contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents. When fresh rodent urine, droppings or nesting materials are stirred up (for example, when vacuuming or sweeping), tiny particles containing the virus get into the air. Infection occurs when breathing in these contaminated materials. Infection can also occur when urine or other infected materials get directly into broken skin through a cut, or into the eyes, nose or mouth. In addition, people who work with live rodents can get the Seoul virus through bites from infected animals.

What are the symptoms?

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Back and abdominal pain
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Flushing of the face
  • Inflammation or redness of the eyes
  • Rash
Some people do not develop symptoms at all or have very mild symptoms. Those who develop symptoms will usually experience them within 1-2 weeks after contact with infectious material. In rare cases, it may take up to 8 weeks to develop symptoms.

How is it diagnosed?

Laboratory tests of blood and body tissues are used to confirm a diagnosis. If you are concerned that you have been infected with Seoul virus, contact your physician.

How is it prevented? 

Rodent control is key for preventing Seoul virus. Take precautions to keep rodents out of dwellings and other places where people gather. Avoid contact with rodent urine, droppings, saliva, and nesting materials. When it is necessary to clean up after rodents, use these precautions.

How do rats get infected?

Seoul virus is shed in the urine, feces, and saliva of recently infected rats. Rats can become infected through wounding or biting other rats and after coming in contact with the urine and feces of infected rats.

How do I know if my pet rat is infected with Seoul virus? 

Rats do not show symptoms of Seoul virus. Rats that may have come from a facility where Seoul virus has been confirmed can be tested. Once infected, rats can continue to shed the virus throughout their lives, potentially infecting both other rats and humans.


Multi-State Outbreak of Seoul Virus