What Is Hepatitis E?
Hepatitis E is a
potentially serious acute disease. It is caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV).
The virus targets the liver.
According to the
World Health Organization (WHO), 20 million cases of hepatitis E infection
occur every year, and 57,000 of them result in death (WHO). It is more common in developing countries.
Hepatitis E usually resolves itself but may develop into acute liver failure.
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis E?
The symptoms of
hepatitis E show up within several weeks of exposure. They include yellowing of
the skin (jaundice), dark urine, joint pain, and a loss of appetite. Pain in
the abdomen, liver enlargement, and acute liver failure are also symptoms.
Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and fever can also occur.
What Causes Hepatitis E?
cases of hepatitis E are caused by drinking water contaminated by fecal matter.
Living in or traveling to countries with poor sanitation can increase your risk.
This is especially true in overcrowded areas.
rarely, hepatitis E can be transmitted by eating products from infected animals.
It can also be transmitted through blood transfusions. An infected pregnant
woman can also transfer the virus to her fetus.
cases of infection clear up on their own after a few weeks. In other cases, the
virus causes liver failure.
How Is Hepatitis E Diagnosed?
hepatitis E, your doctor will do a blood test to look for antibodies to the
virus. Diagnosis can be challenging because distinguishing between different
forms of hepatitis is difficult.
How Is Hepatitis E Treated?
For people who
have severe acute illness and who are not pregnant, treatment with the
medication ribavirin for 21 days has resulted in improved liver function.
If hepatitis E
is suspected and your immune system is not suppressed, you may not need
medications. A doctor may advise you to rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid
alcohol, and practice good hygiene until the infection subsides
Pregnant women, people
with suppressed immune systems, or people with acute liver failure will likely be
hospitalized and monitored.
What Is the Outlook For Hepatitis E?
generally clears up on its own with few complications. In rare cases, it can
lead to acute liver failure, which can be fatal.
Mortality rates for
the virus are low. Pregnant women are most at risk for fatal conditions. People
with suppressed immune systems are more at risk for developing a chronic
version of hepatitis E.
How to Prevent Hepatitis E
avoid contracting hepatitis E, be cautious about drinking unsanitary
developing countries, drink only purified or boiled water. Avoid uncooked or
unpeeled foods. These include fruit, vegetables, and shellfish, which are
usually rinsed in water.
is also important to practice good hygiene and wash hands often.