Hepatitis E Virus Facts

Hepatitis E Virus Facts
Hepatitis E virus is one of the five hepatitis viruses known to affect humans. Hepatitis E infection results in an acute infection of the liver which usually resolves on its own. In some cases however an individual may develop chronic hepatitis as a result, most often if they have a compromised immune system. Hepatitis E is spread through the fecal-oral route, usually in contaminated water sources. There are approximately 20 million infections of Hepatitis E each year around the world. Worldwide there are approximately 56,600 deaths due to Hepatitis E infection each year. Hepatitis E infection is more common in South Asia and East Asia, but can be found around the world.
Interesting Hepatitis E Virus Facts:
Hepatitis E virus is also known as HEV.
Of the 20 million cases of Hepatitis E infection around the world each year, roughly 3.3 million people develop symptomatic Hepatitis E infection.
In severe cases of Hepatitis E infection acute liver failure can occur.
China has developed a vaccine to help prevent Hepatitis E infection but it has not been released on other parts of the world. Hepatitis E is more common in the East and South Asian regions.
Hepatitis E has 4 known types including genotypes 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Hepatitis E genotypes 1 and 2 are capable of infecting humans while Hepatitis E genotypes 3 and 4 are found in animals such as deer and pigs but the animals do not become ill. In some cases this is transmitted to humans from such animals.
Hepatitis E is commonly found in regions of the world where water is frequently contaminated with fecal matter. The Hepatitis E virus is shed in human stools and when it contaminates water and a person ingests the water, it enters their body through their intestines.
Some cases of Hepatitis E are transmitted by consuming undercooked meat or meat that comes from an animal that is infected with HEV.
Hepatitis E virus can be transmitted through contaminated blood products.
A pregnant woman can transmit Hepatitis E virus to her unborn child.
In places where Hepatitis E virus is endemic, it can also be spread through the consumption of uncooked or raw shellfish.
Once infected with Hepatitis E virus the incubation period can take between 2 to 12 weeks.
Once Hepatitis E has onset the infected person will shed the virus for as long as 4 weeks.
Infection with Hepatitis E is most common in the 15 to 40 year old age group.
When young children are infected with Hepatitis E virus they often have only mild illness.
Signs of Hepatitis E infection can include a mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, joint pain, and itchy skin and a possible rash.
Other signs of Hepatitis E infection can include jaundice, an enlarged liver.
Most cases of Hepatitis E infection resolve on their own within 6 weeks.
Acute liver failure can occur in some cases of Hepatitis E, which can be fatal.
There is no specific treatment but in some cases antiviral drugs are used in those who are immunosuppressed.

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