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Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E

What is hepatitis E?

Hepatitis E is an acute liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus. Most people will clear the infection within two to six weeks, but on occasion it can lead to fulminant hepatitis which may be fatal. There are an estimated 20 million hepatitis E infections each year, leading to more than three million symptomatic cases.

How is hepatitis E transmitted?

Hepatitis E is mainly transmitted through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person.

Hepatitis E is most common in low- and middle-income countries which have limited access to essential water, sanitation, hygiene and health services. Outbreaks have occurred in areas of conflict and humanitarian emergency.

Preventing hepatitis E

There is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis E, but it is not widely available.

The spread of hepatitis E can be reduced through proper sanitation and water infrastructure, including quality standards for public water supplies and proper disposal systems for human waste.

Individuals can reduce their risk of exposure by maintaining good hygiene and sanitation practices (including hand washing), and avoiding drinking water that has come from a potentially unsafe source.

Treating hepatitis E

There is no treatment for hepatitis E. However it is usually self-limiting.

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