This article is from the WSSF 2013 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
PRO-RAT-A 194 (March/April 2013) In the March/April 2013 Pro-Rat-A, newsletter of the National Fancy Rat Society in England, Lisa Harries writes about her brother-in-law’s flu-like illness that kept him in the hospital for 7 weeks, which was then diagnosed as Hantavirus. The testing of his two pet rats which came from Lisa, confirmed they were both positive for the virus. The Rare & Imported Pathogens Laboratory, part of the Health Protection Agency, then tested all of Lisa’s rats as well as the humans in her household. All the rats tested positive as well as 3 out of 4 humans tested (2 had gotten sick). All rats were euthanized.
Hantavirus infects many types of rodents around the world with each type of virus infecting a particular rodent with a specific pattern of illness. The virus types in Europe are usually less severe than those in the U.S.A. Rodents can carry the virus but appear healthy, thereby spreading the disease.
The Seoul Hantavirus has been detected in U.K. local wild rats as well
as pet rats associated with human illness cases. Studies are being
set up by the HPA to identify the extent of infection in rats and humans.
There is an article by the HPA
Reducing the risk of human infection from pet rodents. www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317138246716 (PDF file; and in a PDF brochure) that goes into detail on caring for pet rodents that may be suspect to harboring disease.