The rat lying in the food bowl at Café de Coral in Lok Wah Center, Kowloon. Photo: Facebook

A photo of a rat lying in a bowl of rice at a Kowloon fast food shop has gone viral on social media, only days after the world’s second rat hepatitis E infection in a human was confirmed in a 70-year-old.

Posted on a Facebook group, the photo appears to show a rat of about 15 centimeters in length in the rice bowl. Witnesses said that the animal landed there after falling from the ceiling of the Café de Coral in Lok Wah Center, Ngau Tau Kok, at about 1pm on Thursday.

A woman had almost finished eating from the bowl when the incident occurred, and let out a shrill scream. The restaurant manager immediately rushed to the table and removed the offending rodent. The post had received 4,100 reactions and 540 shares as of Friday.

A restaurant spokesperson said that the shopping center had been undergoing pest control measures recently. Restaurant staff had disposed of the bowls and utensils and had disinfected the restaurant following the incident, news website reported.

The company said it has stringent measures in place for monitoring hygiene in each of its restaurants and contracted a professional cleaning service to carry out pest control work every month.

Hong Kong health authorities revealed Monday that an elderly woman  living in the city was carrying the hepatitis E infection, only the second time this is known to have occurred in humans.