First-Ever Human Rat Disease Case

For just the first time, a case involving rat hepatitis E was discovered in a human. The case was discovered in man in Hong Kong who is 56. The man was diagnosed with rat hepatitis E said researchers at Hong Kong University. Prior to the case it was not known that the disease was able to be passed to humans from rats.

Previous experiments in laboratories have found rat hepatitis E cannot be transmitted to monkeys, while the hepatitis A virus in humans is not able to be transmitted to rats, said a researcher in Hong Kong, who explained that monkeys are close to human when dealing with disease susceptibility.

The disease developed in the man after he underwent a liver transplant due to chronic infection from hepatitis B. Following surgery the man continue to have signs of abnormal liver function.

Doctor’s investigations discovered signs of immune response to hepatitis E, which around the globe is a major cause of human viral hepatitis. However, tests returned negative for the virus’ human form.

Investigators said that genetic sequencing of the hepatitis E virus that was infecting the man revealed similarities with the rat type of the disease and an antiviral treatment was given to the patient.

Doctors said the patient had been cured and the virus is no longer detected in clinical specimens.

The team wanted to determine how the disease crossed from rats to humans and believe that the man had caught the disease through rats infesting a garbage chute close to the man’s home.

Doctor’s announced that the rat hepatitis E virus is now on a list of different infections as a pathogen that can be transmitted to humans from rats.

Doctors said the immune system of the patient in Hong Kong had been compromised given he recently received a liver transplant, which put him at much more risk of contracting different infections.

Hepatitis causes the liver to become inflamed, with several viruses that can cause it. The most common are hepatitis A, B, and C that can be spread either via contaminated water, food or blood and other types of body fluids, depending upon the virus.

The hepatitis E human form is usually transmitted via contaminated water and it is estimated that over 20 million people worldwide are infected, which results in more than 3.3 million that show symptoms annually.

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