Doctors discovered the man was carrying the animal strain after he experienced abnormal liver function after a liver transplant.
Just because this is the first case of a rat hepatitis E infection documented in a human, Adalja said, "it doesn't mean it's the first time its ever occurred in history".
Dr. Yuen Kwok-yung, chairman of the infectious diseases section of the microbiology department at the University of Hong Kong, called the case "a wake-up call".
Rodent problems have worsened in Hong Kong with experts saying they found signs of rat infestation near his home, and suspected he had consumed something that had been in touch with rat faeces.
A man in Hong Kong has been found to have a strain of hepatitis E that had only been seen previously in rats, researchers said Friday.
Sridhar said, "The patient is cured, as of this stage we can no longer detect the virus in any clinical specimen".
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Researchers believe he may have contracted the illness through food infected by rat droppings, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
It is usually spread through contaminated drinking water. Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver, with various viruses that cause it. The animal form of the disease is thought to infect wild boars, domestic pigs and deer, as well as rats and other rodents.
The man lives in public housing in eastern Kowloon after, and officials said he went through liver transplant surgery in May and was tested for recurring liver problems. Most commonly, hepatitis A, B and C spread through either contaminated food and water or blood and other body fluids, depending on the virus.
The team was curious about how the disease crossed over from rats into a human and the human too contracted the disease from vermin infesting a refuse bin near his home.
Cases of HEV typically present in one of two ways, either as large outbreaks and sporadic cases in areas where HEV is endemic (genotype 1) in Asia and Africa, (genotype 2) in Mexico and West Africa and (genotype 4) in Taiwan and China or as isolated cases in developed countries (genotype 3), reports the WHO.
An estimated 20 million people are infected with hepatitis E every year, according to the World Health Organization.