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

September 28, 2018
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A Hong Kong man has developed the world's first ever human case of the rat version of the hepatitis E virus, according to new research from one of the city's leading universities.

There had previously been no evidence the disease could jump from to humans, the University of Hong Kong said Friday, warning the discovery had "major public health significance".

"This study conclusively proves for the first time in the world that rat HEV can infect humans to cause clinical infection," the university added.

Rat E virus is very distantly related to human hepatitis E virus variants, HKU said.

The disease was found in a 56-year-old man who persistently produced abnormal function tests following a liver transplant.

He could have contracted the illness through food infected by rat droppings, researchers said, according to details of the findings reported in the South China Morning Post.

The man lived in a housing estate where there were signs of rat infestation outside his home. He is now recovering after being treated for the , the SCMP added.

The human version of hepatitis E is a liver disease that affects 20 million people globally each year, according to the World Health Organisation.

It is usually spread through contaminated drinking water.

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

Rodent problems in Hong Kong have escalated in recent months because of a sustained spell of hot and humid weather.

Hong Kong has been hit hard by disease outbreaks in the past.

In 2003, almost 300 people died from SARS—severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The bubonic plague, carried by rats, swept through mainland China and Hong Kong in the late 19th century killing thousands.

Explore further: Hong Kong reports first H7N9 death

Related Stories

Hong Kong reports first H7N9 death

December 26, 2013
A Hong Kong man infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu died on Thursday, the first such death in the city since the virus emerged there this month.

Hong Kong reports second human case of bird flu

December 30, 2016
Hong Kong on Friday confirmed its second human case of bird flu this season, days after an elderly man died of the virus.

Hong Kong culls thousands of birds over avian flu scare

June 7, 2016
Hong Kong culled 4,500 birds on Tuesday after the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus was discovered in a chicken at a local market.

Hong Kong quarantines 18 over MERS fears

May 31, 2015
Hong Kong authorities quarantined 18 fellow passengers of a South Korean man who arrived in the city infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS.

Hong Kong reports second H7N9 death

January 13, 2014
A Hong Kong man infected with the deadly H7N9 bird flu died late Monday, less than a week after he was confirmed to be infected with the deadly virus, authorities said.

Recommended for you

Drug targets for Ebola, Dengue, and Zika viruses found in lab study

December 13, 2018
No drugs are currently available to treat Ebola, Dengue, or Zika viruses, which infect millions of people every year and result in severe illness, birth defects, and even death. New research from the Gladstone Institutes ...

Faster test for Ebola shows promising results in field trials

December 13, 2018
A team of researchers with members from the U.S., Senegal and Guinea, in cooperation with Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), has developed a faster test for the Ebola virus than those currently in use. In their paper published ...

Urbanisation and air travel leading to growing risk of pandemic

December 13, 2018
Increased arrivals by air and urbanisation are the two main factors leading to a growing vulnerability to pandemics in our cities, a University of Sydney research team has found.

Researchers discover new interactions between Ebola virus and human proteins

December 13, 2018
Several new connections have been discovered between the proteins of the Ebola virus and human host cells, a finding that provides insight on ways to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from reproducing and could lead to novel ...

Faecal transplants, 'robotic guts' and the fight against deadly gut bugs

December 13, 2018
A simple compound found in our gut could help to stop dangerous bacteria behind severe, and sometimes fatal, hospital infections.

Taking the virus out of a mosquito's bite

December 12, 2018
They approach with the telltale sign—a high-pitched whine. It's a warning that you are a mosquito's next meal. But that mosquito might carry a virus, and now the virus is in you. Now, with the help of state-of-the-art technology, ...

8 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Anonym104568
1 / 5 (3) Sep 28, 2018
This is an unintended outcome of immunosuppressant therapy, in this case, related to organ transplant. If something like this leads to a global pandemic, we may retroactively decide that it was a bad idea to help individuals in this manner at the expense of the whole society.
Anonym514932
1 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2018
The ghettos will be the first to die off.
Mother Nature has a way of cleansing herself of parasites.
Anonym891274
2.3 / 5 (6) Sep 28, 2018
Saw the headline and when I got to the article was shocked that the disease is in humans now but thought that the disease was in the dem senators on the Judicial Committee.
Phyllis Harmonic
4 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2018
Wretched commenters are a real scourge- anonymous discompassionate bigots and political opportunists, especially.
Hari Seldon
1 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2018
Hong Kong? I thought they were talking about the American Congress.
shortwave02001
not rated yet Sep 28, 2018
Germans get hepatitis E from pigs as they have a raw pork dish which they like.
Anonym518498
1 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2018
can we import it and inject it IV into senator frankenstein?
rrwillsj
5 / 5 (2) Sep 29, 2018
annoyingmouses squeaking their fear and hate out the darkness if their mental sewer.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.