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 rats 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 hepatitis 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 liver 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. READ MORE