Hantaviruses are rodent-borne, zoonotic (acquired from animals) viruses. They cause two serious infections in humans; 'haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome' (HFRS) and 'hantavirus pulmonary syndrome' (HPS). There are several different Hantaviruses; some are present in Europe and Asia, while others occur in North and South America.
In the summer of 2012 there was an outbreak associated with Yosemite National Park [external link] in the USA. Of the ten confirmed cases (all USA residents), nine had hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (due to Sin Nombre hantavirus)
In the UK, the first cases of Seoul hantavirus infection linked to UK rats, both wild and pet, have recently been reported.
28 February 2013: Pet rats as a source of hantavirus infection, England and Wales [external link to Eurosurveillance]
28 February 2013: Reducing the risk of infection from pet rodents (PDF, 194 KB) (detailed guidance)
14 February 2013: Hantavirus study in North Yorkshire and the Humber
4 January 2013: Seoul virus implicated in human disease in UK [external link to Eurosurveillance]