PROVO — The Utah County Health Department and Utah Department of Health confirmed Tuesday a local case of Seoul virus infection, which has popped up in 14 other states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus is a rare type of hantavirus carried by rats and a case in Utah County is related to pet rats, according to the Utah County Health Department. CDC officials said last week the source of the virus comes from a pet breeding facility and that rats in Utah were among states where rats might be infected.
The CDC first announced back on Jan. 18 that eight people had been infected with the virus in Illinois and Wisconsin. Since then cases have spread throughout the midwest and southeast U.S. and into Colorado and Utah.
The CDC recommended that those who have had recent or current illness after handling rats should get their blood tested.
Symptoms of the virus may include fever, intense headache, back and abdominal pain, chills, blurred vision, nausea, flushing of the face, rash and inflammation and redness of the eyes. Those symptoms may vary from person to person, according to the CDC.
Symptoms typically begin within one to two weeks of exposure to the virus. While most symptoms of the virus are minor, Utah Department of Health officials said it has the possibility of leading to kidney failure.
Officials suggested owners of pet rats or anyone who comes into contact with the rodent should wash their hands thoroughly with soap after handling rats, keep animals away from where food is served or where people might bathe. Gloves and a face mask are also suggested for any cleaning, disinfecting bedding and covering any cuts or scratches before handling a pet.