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Hong Kong health officials report investigating a case of human infection of rat Hepatitis E virus (HEV).

Rattus norvegicus/National Park Service

The case involves a 28-year-old man with underlying illnesses. He was found to have a deranged liver function during his follow-up in Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The patient is now in stable condition. His blood sample tested positive for rat HEV upon laboratory testing.

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP’s) epidemiological investigations revealed that the patient resides in Ho Man Tin. He did not have contact with rodents or rats, and had no travel history during the incubation period.

“Based on the available epidemiological information, the source and the route of infection could not be determined. The CHP’s investigation is ongoing,” a spokesman for the CHP said.

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The exact mode of transmission of rat HEV to humans is unknown at the moment. Possible routes of transmission include ingestion of food or water contaminated by rodents or their excreta, exposure to environments or objects contaminated by rodents or their excreta and direct contact with rodents or their excreta. The usual HEV causing human infection is transmitted mainly through the faecal-oral route.