World's first human case of rat disease found in Hong Kong

World's first human case of rat disease found in Hong Kong

World's first human case of rat disease found in Hong Kong

The world's first human case of rat disease has been discovered in Hong Kong.

Still showing signs of abnormal liver function-doctors had ruled out infection from blood or liver donors-the man was tested for the human form of hepatitis E. Those tests were negative, prompting doctors to perform genetic sequencing of the virus, leading to the determination that it was the form of hepatitis that is present in rats. One possibility is that the man ate food contaminated with rat droppings. That finding, however, is a far cry from a clear answer.

"We don't know if in future there will be a serious outbreak of the rat Hepatitis E virus in Hong Kong", he said. This is thanks to "lots of commonalities between rats and humans", he said. More than 60% of emerging infectious diseases originate in animals. Indeed, the combination of the man's compromised immune system and exposure to rat droppings could have caused this singular case, Adalja said.

Investigations revealed signs of an immune response to hepatitis E, which is a major cause of viral hepatitis in humans all around the world, he said. There are many infections that go "undiagnosed or misdiagnosed" he added.

Rat hepatitis E virus is very distantly related to human hepatitis E virus variants, the researchers say. "Doctors later found that he had a strain of hepatitis that was "highly divergent" from other strains found in humans".

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

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"This example of it actually occurring means that we probably should start looking more for it, especially in immunocompromised people", said Hibberd.

This patient recovered completely after being treated with an antiviral medication that is used to treat the human strain of hepatitis E, according to the Post.

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

The human strain of hepatitis E is typically spread through contaminated water or food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms include fever, vomiting and jaundice, and in rare cases liver failure.

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