Rare Hepatitis E Case Reported in Hong Kong

World's First Human Case Of Rat Disease Found

The world's first human case of the rat version of the hepatitis E virus has been identified in Hong Kong, according to new research from one of the city's leading universities.

According to the BBC, this virus strain had not been previously known to transmit to humans and University of Hong Kong researchers are not certain how the man contracted the infection. 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.

Scientists explained that the rat form of hepatitis E resembles that of a human. Tests for the human form of the virus came back negative.

The rat variation of hepatitis E was discovered in 2010 in Germany, researchers said.

"It's unclear how the man was infected with the virus, but contamination of food by infected rat droppings in the food supply is possible", the researchers said in a report.

Tests then revealed he had a rat strain of the hepatitis E virus (HEV).

A year ago researchers from Oxford University first demonstrated that hepatitis B virus is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease.

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The virus was found in men with liver transplant. Indeed, the combination of the man's compromised immune system and exposure to rat droppings could have caused this singular case, Adalja said.

The infected person will face a variety of symptoms like fever, nausea, discoloration of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools, and an enlarged liver.

There are four other types of hepatitis known to affect humans - A, B, C and D - and most can be spread by human bodily fluids and faeces. In most cases, the virus is spread through contaminated water.

Cases of HEV typically present in one of two ways, either as large outbreaks and sporadic cases in areas where HEV is endemic (genotype 1) in Asia and Africa, (genotype 2) in Mexico and West Africa and (genotype 4) in Taiwan and China or as isolated cases in developed countries (genotype 3), reports the WHO.

The human form of hepatitis E is generally transmitted through contaminated water and is guesstimated to infest 20 million people worldwide, consequential of 3.3 million people showing symptoms each year as per the World Health Organization.

A sustained period of hot and humid weather has caused rodent problems in Hong Kong to escalate, multiple sources reported.

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