Hepatitis E virus (HEV)
The disease caused by HEV is called hepatitis E, or enterically
transmitted non-A non-B hepatitis (ET-NANBH). Other names include
fecal-oral non-A non-B hepatitis,and A-like non-A non-B hepatitis.
Note: This disease should not be confused with hepatitis C, also
called parenterally transmitted non-A non-B hepatitis (PT-NANBH),
or B-like non-A non-B hepatitis, which is a common cause of
hepatitis in the U.S.
Hepatitis caused by HEV is clinically indistinguishable from
hepatitis A disease. Symptoms include malaise, anorexia, abdominal
pain, arthralgia, and fever. The infective dose is not known.
Diagnosis of HEV is based on characteristics of the outbreak and
by exclusion of hepatitis A and B viruses by blood tests.
Confirmation requires identification of the virus-like particles by
immune electron microscopy in feces of acutely ill patients.
HEV is transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Waterborne and
person-to-person spread have been documented. The potential exists
for foodborne transmission.
Hepatitis E occurs in both epidemic and sporadic-endemic forms,
usually associated with contaminated drinking water. Major
waterborne epidemics have occurred in Asia and North and East
Africa. To date no US outbreaks have been reported.
The incubation period for hepatitis E varies from 2 to 9 weeks.
The disease usually is mild and resolves in 2 weeks, leaving no
sequelae. The fatality rate is 0.1-1% except in pregnant women.
This group is reported to have a fatality rate approaching 20%.
The disease is most often seen in young to middle aged adults
(15-40 years old). Pregnant women appear to be exceptionally
susceptible to severe disease, and excessive mortality has been
reported in this group.
HEV has not been isolated from foods. No method is currently
available for routine analysis of foods.
Food and Drug
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a
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