News outlets have become concerned with a recent outbreak of Seoul virus connected with rat breeding facilities. So far 16 people have been infected and there have been three reported cases of hantavirus hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS). This outbreak is concerning as it is a multi-state outbreak, and while transmission from human-human has not been documented, the rarity of the disease coupled with the severity of complications have CDC officials working to curb the outbreak as fast as possible.
What exactly is Seoul virus?
Seoul virus is a species of virus within the hantavirus genus, which is a part of the viral family Buynaviridae. Hantaviruses spread by contact with rodents, and includes viruses that are fatal to humans. However, since there does not exist a vaccine or a treatment for Seoul virus infections, preventing infection is essential. Of the people infected so far, none have died, and the fatality rate is only estimated at 1-2% of people infected.
Current research around Seoul virus has been looking into the importance of terminally deleted RNAs, which were shown to accumulate in cells infected with Seoul virus.
|Image/National Park Service|
Fields, Bernard N, David M. Knipe, and Peter M. Howley. Fields Virology. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013. Internet resource.