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Source: Charite – Universitatsmedizin Berlin Infection by Asian virus species detected in Germany Electron microscope image of hantaviruses (Photo: H. Gelderblom / DH Krüger). A research group from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin was able to transmit a certain virus species – the Seoul virus – from an animal to an animal for the first time in Germany occupy the people. In cooperation with the Friedrich Loeffler Institute, the pathogen was detected in a young patient and her pet rat. This could have an impact on the handling of wild and domestic rats, as is now described in the specialist magazine Emerging Infectious Diseases. * After several outbreaks in the 21st century, hantavirus diseases are more in the public eye and have been reportable in Germany since 2001. For example, the Puumala and Dobrava-Belgrade viruses, which are widespread in Central Europe, can be transmitted by various types of mouse. These usually lead to febrile illnesses, but in some cases also to HFRS syndrome, which is associated with fever, drop in blood pressure and acute kidney failure. In contrast, the Seoul virus, which is widespread in Asia and leads to severe disease more often, occurs exclusively in rats. Transmission of the highly virulent Seoul virus from rats to humans has already been documented in several cases outside of Asia. The team led by Prof. Dr. Jörg Hofmann, head of the National Consultative Laboratory for Hantaviruses at the Institute for Virology at the Charité, has now for the first time been able to identify a so-called autochthonous infection caused by the Seoul virus, which originated in a rat. In close cooperation with the research group of Prof. Dr. Rainer G. Ulrich at the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI) in Greifswald and local and regional health authorities, the researchers detected the virus in a young patient from Lower Saxony and one of her domestic rats. “This virus originally comes from Asia and probably got to Europe through infected wild rats on ships, but has never been observed in Germany,” says Prof. Hofmann, first author of the study. The patient’s infected breeding rat was probably imported into Germany from another country. The young patient had to receive intensive care for several days after she showed symptoms of acute kidney failure. Serological laboratory tests could quickly confirm the suspicion of a hantavirus infection – but it was not clear what type of virus it was. The team led by Prof. Hofmann at the Charité has developed a special molecular diagnostic system that could be used to identify the Seoul virus in the patient . The experts at the Friedrich Loeffler Institute were able to use the test to detect the same virus in the affected home rat. Prof. Hofmann explains: “Both virus sequences, that of the patient and that of the rat, were identical. This confirms a disease caused by the transmission of the pathogen from animals to humans – a so-called zoonosis. “” Until now, people only thought of hantavirus infections when they came into contact with mice. Now you have to consider the possibility of an infection in contact with wild or domestic rats, ”warn the authors. “Detection in a pet rat also means that the virus can be exported practically anywhere through the sale of these animals.” Caution is therefore required when keeping rats. * Hofmann J et al. Autochthonous ratborne Seoul virus infection in woman with acute kidney injury. Emerg Infect Dis (2020), DOI: 10.3201 / eid2612.200708

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ContactProf. Dr. Jörg HofmannInstitute for VirologyCampus Charité Mitte t: +49 30 450 525 141

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