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Detection of Seoul virus in wild brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) from pig farms in Northern England

Murphy, Ellen G.; Williams, Nicola J.; Bennett, Malcolm; Jennings, Daisy; Chantrey, Julian; McElhinney, Lorraine M.


Ellen G. Murphy

Nicola J. Williams

Daisy Jennings

Julian Chantrey

Lorraine M. McElhinney


Introduction: Hantaviruses are maintained by mammalian hosts, such as rodents, and are shed in their excretions. Clinical disease can occur in humans from spillover infection. Brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) are the globally distributed reservoir host of Seoul virus (SEOV). Human cases of SEOV-associated haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (SEOV-HFRS) have been reported in Great Britain (GB) since 1977.

Methods: Brown rats (n=68) were trapped from a variety of peridomestic locations, with a focus on pig farms. Kidney and lung tissues were tested for viral RNA using a pan-hantavirus RT-PCR assay followed by Sanger sequencing and analysis.

Results: SEOV RNA was detected in 19 per cent (13/68, 95%?CI 11 to 30) of rats and all sequences fell within SEOV lineage 9. Twelve sequences were highly similar to each other and to the previously reported GB Humber strain of SEOV (98 per cent). One rat SEOV sequence was more distant. The SEOV prevalence in rats from pig farms was significantly greater (p=0.047) than other sites sampled. No significant sex or age differences were observed among positive and negative rats.

Discussion: The results from this study suggest that SEOV could be widespread in wild rats in GB and therefore pose a potential risk to public health.


Murphy, E. G., Williams, N. J., Bennett, M., Jennings, D., Chantrey, J., & McElhinney, L. M. (2019). Detection of Seoul virus in wild brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) from pig farms in Northern England. Veterinary Record, 184(17), 525-525.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 30, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 5, 2019
Publication Date Apr 25, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 29, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 13, 2019
Journal Veterinary Record
Print ISSN 0042-4900
Electronic ISSN 2042-7670
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 184
Issue 17
Pages 525-525
Keywords General Veterinary; General Medicine
Public URL
Publisher URL


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