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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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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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News Shorts
BSAVA announces winner of 2019 Bourgelat Award

One of the world’s leading small animal medicine specialists is set to receive the prestigious Bourgelat Award at BSAVA Congress 2019.

Professor Mike Herrtage will be recognised for his major research into metabolic and endocrine diseases, including diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease.

During his career, Prof Herrtage has co-authored more than 100 scientific papers and written more than 200 other publications such as abstracts, books and chapters. He also continues to be a source of inspiration for thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate veterinary surgeons.