Hepatitis E (HEV) is a viral infection causing inflammation of the liver. It is primarily acquired by ingesting water contaminated with fecal matter. The virus is also transmitted from person to person through the fecal-oral route as a result of poor body hygiene practices. In some regions, such as Europe and Japan, pigs, deer, and wild boars are known to be reservoirs for Hepatitis E and it can be contracted by eating raw or undercooked meat such as pig liver and venison.
The infection is present worldwide, although its prevalence varies in different regions. Travellers drinking untreated water, eating undercooked meats, or going to areas with poor sanitation are at risk.
Usually symptoms appear 2 to 9 weeks after exposure to the virus and include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, and jaundice. Treatment includes supportive care of symptoms.
There is currently no commercially available preventive vaccine or medication against Hepatitis E.
Always drink boiled or treated water.
Eat well cooked meats.
Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water. If not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Practice good body hygiene.
Information last updated: October 23, 2020
Jameel S, Aggarwal R. Enteric Viral Hepatitis A and E.In: Guerrant, R; Walker D; Weller P, eds. Tropical Infectious Diseases. 3rd ed. New York: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: 420-426.
Jong E, McMullen R. Viral Hepatitis in Travellers and Immigrants. In: Jong E, Sanford C, eds. The Travel and Tropical Medicine Manual, 4th ed. Waltham: Saunders Elsevier; 2008: 351-369.
Wertheim, Heiman; Horby, Peter; Woodall, John, eds. Atlas of Human Infectious Diseases. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012. 273 p.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Hepatitis E