BAHS not accepting rats amid Seoul virus outbreak

Rat (Photo courtesy MGN Online)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- The Bay Area Humane Society is not accepting rats for the time being, following the discovery of a rare virus connected to an area rat-breeding facility.

An outbreak of the Seoul virus, a type of hantavirus, was discovered in people connected to a breeding operation in Manitowoc County. That operation bought rats from an infected facility in Illinois.

“Because the Seoul virus is a serious threat to human health, and infected rats cannot be easily identified, for the safety of our staff, our volunteers, and our guests, Bay Area Humane Society cannot accept any rats into the shelter, until further information is released by the agencies investigating the outbreak,” Dr. Steven Cybela, medical director at BAHS, said in a news release.

According to BAHS, Seoul virus can be transmitted to people through rat bites or close contact with rats or their waste. While rats carrying the virus do not show symptoms, in humans the virus can cause intense headaches, back and abdominal pain, fever, chills, nausea, blurred vision, a flushed face, inflammation or redness in the eyes or a rash. If a person does not receive medical attention, the condition can progress to shock, kidney failure and death.

The virus cannot be transmitted from person to person, according to BAHS.

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