Human With Rat Hepatitis Confirmed in Hong Kong for First Time

01 October, 2018, 12:22 | Author: Kara Nash
  • It was not previously known the disease could be passed from rats to humans

Researchers from Hong Kong University has registered its first case of human infection pasukim kind of hepatitis E (HEV).

Doctors discovered the case when tests on the man showed abnormal liver function following a liver transplant.

The victim - 56-year-old man in may last year, transplanted the liver. The human-specific version of hepatitis E, which is caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV), is rare in Australia, but it's quite common in many parts of the world, according to the US Centres for Disease Control.

"Infectious diseases ... can spread from rats to humans easily", said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who was not involved with the patient's case.

But one man's infection isn't necessarily a sign of an onslaught of rat-mediated hepatitis infections to come.

Until now, there had been no evidence the virus could jump from rats to humans, researchers said.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong suspect he became infected after eating food that was contaminated by infected rat droppings.

Humans tend to be infected by ingesting infected faecal matter, such as drinking contaminated water or through contact with poor sanitation. Doctors later found that he had a strain of hepatitis that was "highly divergent" from other strains found in humans, the BBC reports.


The virus causes hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, and can not be cured but usually heals on its own.

The animal form of the disease is said to infect deer, domestic pigs, and wild boars and also rats and other rodents.

There is no treatment for hepatitis but it usually clears up by itself.

A sustained period of hot and humid weather has caused rodent problems in Hong Kong to escalate, multiple sources reported. Indeed, the combination of the man's compromised immune system and exposure to rat droppings could have caused this singular case, Adalja said.

He explained that, when it comes to disease susceptibility, monkeys closely resembled humans, but the risk of rat hepatitis E affecting humans was underestimated.

Symptoms of hepatitis E in humans include fever, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain, joint pain and dark-colored urine.

The World Health Organization estimates that the human variation of hepatitis E infects 20 million people each year, most commonly in East and South Asia.

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