Hepatitis E FAQs

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What is hepatitis E (HEV)? 
Hepatitis E is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver. HEV does not cause chronic disease and in the United States, HEV is rarely found.

What are the risk factors for HEV infection? 
HEV is associated with contaminated water supplies from countries other than the United States. Consumption of contaminated drinking water in developing countries is the primary risk factor.

The CDC slide below illustrates the geographical prevalence of HEV in the world:

Global distribution of HEV
© Slide compliments of the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) presentation entitled: Epidemiology and Prevention of Viral Hepatitis A to E: An Overview. 

How is HEV transmitted? 
HEV is transmitted through the fecal/oral route. HEV is primarily acquired through the ingestion of contaminated water supplies.

What are the signs and symptoms of HEV infection? 
Symptoms vary from no symptoms to mild flu-like illness, dark urine, light stools, jaundice, fatigue and fever.

How can I find out if I am infected with HEV? 
Check with your physician if you suspect that you may have hepatitis of any form.

How can I prevent HEV infection?
Exercise caution when traveling to foreign countries. Drink only safe water, that is water that is canned, boiled, or bottled. Avoid beverages made with ice. Boiling is the most effective method to ensure safe water, at high altitudes boil vigorously for a few minutes, then allow it to cool; do not add ice. Chemical disinfection can be accomplished through the use of either iodine or chlorine, iodine is the most effective disinfectant. Avoid uncooked shellfish, and uncooked fruit/vegetables not peeled or prepared by yourself.