Second human case of rat hepatitis E discovered in 3 months

We had patient zero. Now authorities have another.

Just a few months after Hong Kong discovered the world’s first-known case of a strain of hepatitis E passing from rats to humans, a second such infection has been found.

According to, the second case involves an elderly female patient who was living in Choi Hung, in the same area as the first patient but not in the same housing estate.

She was sent to Kwong Wah Hospital for treatment earlier this year where it was initially thought she was suffering from either rheumatism or an immune deficiency. She was later diagnosed with hepatitis E in May, and was discharged from hospital.

The University of Hong Kong’s department of microbiology, who were following up on the first case in September, traced serum samples from patients diagnosed with hepatitis E in the past few years, and found that the female patient’s sample matched that of the male from September.

Like the first case, doctors believe that the strain contracted by the woman also originated in rats. The patient was discharged from hospital after treatment.

The September case — which involved a 56-year-old male liver transplant patient who lived near a rat-infested refuse room on Choi Wan Estate — was believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

It was previously thought that hepatitis E could not jump from rats to humans.

No longer.

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