Hepatitis E (HEV) is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. It is not considered chronic and is rare in the United States.
How is HEV spread?
HEV infection is usually associated with drinking water that has been contaminated with feces. People in the United States who have HEV almost always received the infection in another country where HEV is common. Person-to-person transmission of HEV infection appears to be uncommon. Outbreaks of HEV have occurred in a wide geographic area. These outbreaks occur primarily in developing countries with inadequate sanitation.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of HEV are the similar to other types of viral hepatitis and may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dark-colored urine
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and/or eyes)
- Nausea and vomiting
Other less common symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Hive-like rash
How is it treated?
There is no known treatment for HEV infection. The infection is acute and runs its course.
Who is at risk for being infected?
Travelers to developing countries are most at risk for HEV infection. Pregnant women are especially at risk.
How can HEV be prevented?
The following measures can help prevent infection with HEV for travelers to developing countries:
- Avoid drinking water (and beverages with ice) of unknown purity in developing countries
- Do not eat uncooked shellfish in developing countries
- Do not eat uncooked fruit or vegetables in developing countries
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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 medical condition.
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