World’s first human case of rat disease found in Hong Kong

Rodent problems in Hong Kong have escalated in recent months because of a sustained spell of hot and humid weather. (AFP)
Updated 28 September 2018
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World’s first human case of rat disease found in Hong Kong

  • There had previously been no evidence the disease could jump from rats to humans
  • Rodent problems in Hong Kong have escalated in recent months because of a sustained spell of hot and humid weather

HONG KONG: A Hong Kong man has developed the world’s first ever human case of the rat version of the hepatitis E virus, according to new research from one of the city’s leading universities.
There had previously been no evidence the disease could jump from rats to humans, the University of Hong Kong said Friday, warning the discovery had “major public health significance.”
“This study conclusively proves for the first time in the world that rat HEV can infect humans to cause clinical infection,” the university added.
Rat hepatitis E virus is very distantly related to human hepatitis E virus variants, HKU said.
The disease was found in a 56-year-old man who persistently produced abnormal liver function tests following a liver transplant.
He could have contracted the illness through food infected by rat droppings, researchers said, according to details of the findings reported in the South China Morning Post.
The man lived in a housing estate where there were signs of rat infestation outside his home. He is now recovering after being treated for the virus, the SCMP added.
The human version of hepatitis E is a liver disease that affects 20 million people globally each year, according to the World Health Organization.
It is usually spread through contaminated drinking water.
Symptoms include fever, vomiting and jaundice, and in rare cases liver failure.
Rodent problems in Hong Kong have escalated in recent months because of a sustained spell of hot and humid weather.
Hong Kong has been hit hard by disease outbreaks in the past.
In 2003, almost 300 people died from SARS — severe acute respiratory syndrome.
The bubonic plague, carried by rats, swept through mainland China and Hong Kong in the late 19th century killing thousands.


Saudi students invent robot to improve solar panel efficiency

The technology addresses the problem of decreased efficiency in the production of electricity by photovoltaic solar panels caused by harsh environmental conditions. (Photo/Social media)
Updated 20 April 2019
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Saudi students invent robot to improve solar panel efficiency

  • The device boosts productivity from 70% to 80%

TAIF: Two students at Taif University in Saudi Arabia have invented a robot that improves the efficiency of solar panels by more than 14 percent by keeping them clean and dust free.
The technology developed by Ahmed Fayez Ahmed Mohammed and Ahmed Ali Zayed Oudha, who are studying electrical engineering, addresses the problem of decreased efficiency in the production of electricity by photovoltaic solar panels caused by harsh environmental conditions, including the build up of dust, which can be particularly problematic in desert environments.
To counter this, they created a high-performance, cost-efficient smart robot that prevents the accumulation of dirt and dust on the panels.
It has sensors that allow it to move across the surface of the panels and accurately detect and remove any buildup. They also prevent the robot from wasting energy operating when the panels are not generating power — for example at night or on cloudy days. The cleaning mechanism uses cylindrical brushes and a high-performance fan.
The students worked on the project under the supervision of Dr. Mohammed Salahuddin Mohammed Suleiman and Dr. Musleh Al-Harthy, the dean of the engineering faculty.