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University of Hong Kong researchers said the 56-year-old man was cured of the liver disease in March, The New York Times reported.
The case is "a wake-up call," according to Dr. Yuen Kwok-yung, chairman of the infectious diseases section of the microbiology department at the university.
Routine hepatitis E testing would not have detected the man's infection, because the rat strain is much different than the one that typically infects humans, the researchers explained.
They said the rat strain of hepatitis E was discovered in 2010 in Germany and has been found in rats across the world, including the United States.
The human strain of hepatitis E infects 20 million people each year and about 44,000 people died from it in 2015, according to the World Health Organization.
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