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Rat owners urged to practise safe handling
Researchers pinpointed 24 people in Canada and the US who developed acute Seoul virus infections after contact with pet rats.
Investigation confirms Seoul virus infection in humans 

Rat owners are being urged to practise safe handling following an outbreak of Seoul virus amongst humans in the United States.

According to Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, doctors in the US and Canada have seen cases of Seoul virus infection in humans who contracted the virus from their pet rats.

Speaking to Reuters Health, Dr Janna Kerins of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said: “In December 2016, a patient in Wisconsin was hospitalised for fever and a low white blood cell count and ultimately tested positive for Seoul virus. Soon after, a family member developed similar symptoms and also tested positive.”

Following confirmation of the infection, the CDC and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services launched an investigation into the source of the disease. Dr Kerins, who co-authored the report, said that the outbreak spread from sales or trade of infected pet rats between people’s homes or where they are bred, in 11 states.

Researchers pinpointed 24 people in Canada and the US who developed acute Seoul virus infections after contact with pet rats. Kerins said that eight became ill and three were hospitalised but made a full recovery.

Seoul virus is a type of hantavirus found in the Norway rat. Rats infected with the disease are asymptomatic but can transmit the virus to humans through infectious saliva, urine, droppings, or aerosolization from contaminated bedding. Signs and symptoms in humans range from mild influenza-like illness to hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome.

“This is a good reminder that rats and other rodents can carry hantavirus without looking sick, so it is important for owners of pet rats to be aware of the risk for Seoul virus infection, and to practice good hand hygiene . . . such as washing hands after handling rodents and before preparing food, and by avoiding rat bites and scratches,” Kerins said.

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Sale of microbeads now banned

News Story 1
 The sale of products containing microbeads is now banned across England and Scotland, Defra has confirmed.

As part of government efforts to prevent these plastics ending up in the marine environment, retailers can no longer sell rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads. These tiny plastics were often added to products including face scrubs, soaps, toothpaste and shower gels.

Just a single shower is thought to send 100,000 of these beads down the drain and into the ocean, where it can cause serious harm to marine life. A ban on manufacturing products containing microbeads previously came into force in January this year. 

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News Shorts
George Eustice announces funding for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea

Farming minister George Eustice has announced a 5.7million funding package to help farmers tackle Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD).

The funding will be available in England for three years through the Rural Development Programme and farmers will be able to apply for one-to-one farm advisory visits by a veterinary practitioner.

The project will recruit local vets who will then work with keepers of breeding cattle to tackle BVD on their farms.