Wild rats, laboratory rats, pet rats: Global seoul hantavirus disease revisited

Jan Clement, James W. LeDuc, Graham Lloyd, Jean Marc Reynes, J. Reynes, Marc Van Ranst, Ho Wang Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Recent reports from Europe and the USA described Seoul orthohantavirus infection in pet rats and their breeders/owners, suggesting the potential emergence of a “new” public health problem. Wild and laboratory rat-induced Seoul infections have, however, been described since the early eighties, due to the omnipresence of the rodent reservoir, the brown rat Rattus norvegicus. Recent studies showed no fundamental differences between the pathogenicity and phylogeny of pet rat-induced Seoul orthohantaviruses and their formerly described wild or laboratory rat counterparts. The paucity of diagnosed Seoul virus-induced disease in the West is in striking contrast to the thousands of cases recorded since the 1980s in the Far East, particularly in China. This review of four continents (Asia, Europe, America, and Africa) puts this “emerging infection” into a historical perspective, concluding there is an urgent need for greater medical awareness of Seoul virus-induced human pathology in many parts of the world Given the mostly milder and atypical clinical presentation, sometimes even with preserved normal kidney function, the importance of simple but repeated urine examination is stressed, since initial but transient proteinuria and microhematuria are rarely lacking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number652
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Acute kidney injury (AKI)
  • Brown rat
  • Hantavirus
  • Hantavirus cardio-pulmonary syndrome (HCPS)
  • Hantavirus disease
  • Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS)
  • Laboratory rat
  • Pet rat
  • Seoul virus (SEOV)
  • Wild rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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