Rats and hepatitis E: How animal diseases jump to humans

Image credit: Conor Heneghan

The first known case of rat hepatitis jumping to a human patient has reopened a long-standing mystery of how the cryptic viruses spread and bounce between humans and animal reservoirs.

[September 28], researchers at the University of Hong Kong revealed that a 56-year-old-man had contracted a strain of hepatitis E previously thought to only infect rats.

[T]he researchers noted evidence of a rodent infestation near the man’s home with noticeable collections of droppings by a next-door garbage chute. Testing of at least one rat collected in the neighborhood in recent years had turned up positive for rat hepatitis E.

[W]e know that rat hepatitis E—like the rest of its ilk—spreads through a fecal-oral route, which works exactly as it sounds. Essentially, for the rat virus to become a major public health crisis there would have to be a situation such as a significant amount of rat feces contaminating a source of drinking water.

Related article:  Woman's death blamed on bee-sting acupuncture promoted by Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop

In the case of the 56-year-old man in Hong Kong, [researcher X.J.] Meng speculates it was just an unlucky twist of fate that he got the “first infected” title. His immune system was likely suppressed following the liver transplant (to help his body accept the new organ), making him much more susceptible. And it seems he just happened to have a high chance of exposure from his environment.

Read full, original post: Rat hepatitis jumps to human for first time, spotlighting disease mystery

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Genetics Unzipped
Infographic: How dangerous COVID mutant strains develop

Infographic: How dangerous COVID mutant strains develop

Sometime in 2019, probably in China, SARS CoV-2 figured out a way to interact with a specific "spike" on the ...

Philip Njemanze: Leading African anti-GMO activist claims Gates Foundation destroying Nigeria

Nigerian anti-GMO activist, physician, and inventor pushes anti-gay and anti-GMO ...

Most Popular

News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend