Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus.

How is the hepatitis E virus spread?

The hepatitis E virus enters the body through the mouth and is passed in the stool (feces). The virus can spread to an infected person's hands if he/she does not wash them well after going to the bathroom, and it can be spread to another person. The virus can also be spread by eating or drinking something that has been touched by an infected person. Large outbreaks in developing countries can be caused by contaminated drinking water. Sexual transmission and transmission through blood transfusion are not common.

Who gets hepatitis E?

Anyone can get hepatitis E. The disease is not common in the United States. Most cases occur in developing countries.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis E?

The symptoms of hepatitis E are similar to those of hepatitis A and can include fatigue (feeling tired), decreased appetite, fever, nausea or vomiting. Some people may have dark urine or jaundice (yellowish skin and whites of the eyes). Most people get better in a few weeks without any complications.

How soon after infection do symptoms appear?

Symptoms usually appear two to nine weeks after infection.

Does past infection with hepatitis E virus make a person immune?

Yes. Once a person recovers from hepatitis E, he or she is immune (protected) for life and does not continue to carry the hepatitis E virus. However, infection with hepatitis E virus will not stop a person from getting other types of hepatitis viruses.

How is hepatitis E diagnosed?

Hepatitis E can be diagnosed by a blood test.

What is the treatment for hepatitis E?

There are no special medicines that can be used to treat persons with hepatitis E. People who have a hepatitis E infection should be evaluated by a medical provider to determine care options. Persons with hepatitis E should avoid alcohol.

How can hepatitis E be prevented?

If you travel to a country where hepatitis E occurs, use bottled water, or boil tap water before using. To prevent person-to-person spread, carefully wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food. For a full list of safe food and water guidelines and hygiene recommendations while traveling, please visit the CDC website.

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