Rats have been infecting human with a new strain signs of hepatitis E.

Infectious disease experts at the University of Hong Kong believe rats have been infecting humans with a new strain of hepatitis E.

A series of cases – most of them in Hong Kong – baffled the infectious disease experts who did not know how the disease was being transmitted.

How is it spread?

Hepatitis E, an illness of the liver, is normally spread through water contaminated with the faeces of an infected person as reported by CNN.

rats

There are four known strains, only one of which has previously been thought to infect humans. But since 2018, 11 Hong Kong residents have tested positive for a strain of hepatitis E which was thought to only affect rats.

Nobody knows how people are being infected.

The rat strain poses a new mystery: nobody knows exactly how these people are getting infected. In the two years since the discovery, researchers have yet to identify the exact route of transmission from rats to humans.

They have theories – maybe the patients drank contaminated water like the usual human strain, or handled contaminated objects – but nothing has been definitively proven.

Not knowing how the virus jumps from rats to humans makes it very difficult to prevent further infections.

The most recent case was that of a 61-year-old man with an abnormal liver function which was discovered on April 30, 2020, by researchers at the University of Hong Kong.

Microbiologist Siddharth Sridhar, who was studying the unprecedented cases, believes there could be hundreds of more people unwittingly infected.

(H/T Kenyan News)