Human Infection of Rat Disease Brings Disturbing Questions on Hong Kong’s Rodent Problem

Human Infection of Rat Disease Brings Disturbing Questions on Hong Kong’s Rodent Problem

Rodent infestation in Hong Kong has earned public concern over recent reports that a rat disease has infected a 56-year-old man, becoming the “world’s first ever human case of the rat version of the hepatitis E virus,” reports said.

“We don’t know if in future there will be a serious outbreak of the rat Hepatitis E virus in Hong Kong. We need to closely monitor this issue,” Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, a professor and microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said in a report.

MedicalXpress said rodent problems has recently escalated in Hong Kong following its “sustained spell of hot and humid weather.” Both residents and tourists are concerned over the reports as thousands have died both in China and Hongkong due to the bubonic plague back in the 19th century.

“This study conclusively proves for the first time in the world that rat HEV can infect humans to cause clinical infection,” the University of Hong Kong said in a report.

Hong Kong authorities, however, said there is no need to panic at this stage. Still, medical experts have renewed their calls to improve environmental and personal hygiene in Hong Kong as the “first human infection of the rat hepatitis E virus took place in Hong Kong should prompt extra vigilance from everyone.”

According to reports, the 56-year-old man has had a liver transplant and may have contracted the rat form of the Hepatitis E virus after eating food that may has been contaminated with rat droppings.

EuroNews said the man received anti-viral treatment and is now cured.

South China Morning Post, in a report earlier this year, said rodents also carry other viral, rickettsial and bacterial diseases.

“The causative agents can enter the human body via fleas, ticks and mites, through food or water contaminated by rodent waste, or through rat bites. Common rodent-borne diseases include the plague, urban typhus, spotted fever, scrub typhus, hantavirus infection and rat-bite fever,” the report said.

South China Morning Post said, “we hope Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee means business with her pledge to step up efforts to ensure no repeat of infections.”