Hepatitis has been one of the major fatal disease affecting millions of people around the world, especially the ones belonging to the lower financial strata. It is spread through contaminated food and water. Hepatitis E virus, in general, have a fecal-oral route of transmission. However, it spreads through human to human contact. Recently though, the second case of rat Hepatitis E was recorded in Hong Kong, making it also the second case globally.
The patient is a 70-year-old woman from Wong Tai Sin district in Hong Kong and she was diagnosed with rat Hepatitis E earlier this month. However, the inoculation of the virus seemed to have happened earlier. She complained of a headache and malaise and stomach cramps way back on May 1, 2017, for which she was admitted to a hospital. However, they discharged her in 4 days time when her symptoms went down. The pathogen persisted in her body.
In September, the first known case was reported in a 56-year-old man and this led the Health Department to cross-check the blood of all the patients who had Hepatitis E Immunoglobulin in their blood. That is when they stumbled upon the record of the 70 years old woman.
Both the patients belong to the same district of Wong Tai Sin and live a mile apart, which is a cause of worry as more rats could be carriers of the virus and can spread it. Though the patients denied being in contact with any rodents directly or their feces, it seems like a case of unhygienic transmission. Everyone else around that area has been told to take necessary precautions to avoid the spreading of the virus, by maintaining basic hygiene and sanitation, washing and boiling food before consuming, keeping hands clean.
Rat Hepatitis E has been included as another disease that can be transmitted from rats to humans, making the control of rat population in human settlement in priority. The advancement in diagnostic tools and methods has led to the identification of the virus, some experts feel, and it may have been there earlier as well. The good news is that early diagnosis and timely intervention can result in curing the disease and prevent it from leading to complications. Thus, rat Hepatitis E is still preventable if proper measures are taken.