Hepatitis E Questions and Answers for the Public
- What is hepatitis E?
- How is hepatitis E spread?
- How common is hepatitis E?
- Who is at risk for hepatitis E?
- Does hepatitis E cause symptoms?
- How soon after exposure to hepatitis E will symptoms appear?
- How serious is hepatitis E?
- How would I know if I have hepatitis E?
- How is hepatitis E treated?
- Can hepatitis E be prevented?
What is hepatitis E?
Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Most people with hepatitis E fully recover and have no long-term liver problems as a result of their infection.
How is hepatitis E spread?
In developing countries, people most often get hepatitis E from drinking water contaminated by feces from people who are infected with the virus. In the United States and other developed countries, people have gotten sick with hepatitis E after eating raw or undercooked pork, venison, and wild boar meat.
How common is hepatitis E?
Hepatitis E is common in many parts of the developing world where sanitation is poor. It is not common in the United States, where people have access to clean drinking water. Most cases in the United States involve people who have recently traveled to countries where hepatitis E is common.
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored stool
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes)
How serious is hepatitis E?
Pregnant women are at greater risk for liver failure and death from hepatitis E. People who have had solid-organ transplants and those with compromised immune systems can experience more severe, long-term liver problems if infected.
How would I know if I have hepatitis E?
Hepatitis E can only be diagnosed with laboratory tests ordered by your health-care provider. If you are having symptoms of hepatitis E, see your health-care provider.
Can hepatitis E be prevented?
No vaccine is available to protect against hepatitis E. However, you can lower your risk for HEV infection by drinking only purified water when visiting countries where hepatitis E is common and by avoiding raw or undercooked pork, venison, and wild boar meat.