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Study 'Seoul virus in brown rats : Seroprevalence of hantavirus and Leptospira infections in muskrat and coypu controllers in the Netherlands and results of related research in brown rats

Studie 'Seoulvirus in bruine ratten': Seroprevalentie van hantavirus- en Leptospira-infecties bij muskus- en beverratbestrijders in Nederland en resultaten van gerelateerd onderzoek in bruine ratten (Dutch only, English synopsis)

Synopsis

In February 2015, the Seoul virus (SEOV) was detected for the first time in the Netherlands in three captured brown rats. Water board staff may encounter brown rats as a ‘bycatch’ of muskrat and coypu control. However, the risk of them being infected with SEOV is small, because very few brown rats in the Netherlands carry the virus. These are the findings of a study by RIVM.



SEOV is what is known as a hantavirus. Most types of hantavirus are principally found in mouse species, but muskrat and coypu controllers come into contact with them less often. The risk of the pest controllers being exposed to other hantaviruses is therefore small.



The risk of muskrat and coypu controllers being exposed to Leptospira bacteria is greater. Approximately half the brown rats in the Netherlands carry this bacterium, which can also contaminate the surface waters in the surroundings. However, only a small number of the muskrat and coypu controllers has turned out to be infected by Leptospira bacteria. This is probably because they wear protective clothing during their work, such as gloves, goggles and suits with boots.



Hantaviruses and Leptospira bacteria generally cause mild flu-like complaints that are difficult to distinguish from each other. In more severe forms, both microorganisms can cause kidney problems (inflammation, poor functioning), but this is rare.



For this study, 260 muskrat and coypu controllers completed an online questionnaire (65% of the 402 people contacted). In addition, blood samples were taken from 246 people (61%), which were tested for antibodies against six hantaviruses. One blood sample contained a hantavirus variant (the Puumala virus). Sufficient blood was available from 162 participants to test for Leptospira as well. Two of them were infected with this bacterium. This study was not able to show whether they had also been made ill by the Leptospira bacterium.


To reference / cite this report use:  DOI 10.21945/RIVM-2017-0018

Home / Documents and publications / 2017 / March / Study 'Seoul virus in brown rats : Seroprevalence of hantavirus and Leptospira infections in muskrat and coypu controllers in the Netherlands and results of related research in brown rats

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