Hepatitis E Questions and Answers for the Public

What is Hepatitis E?
Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis E virus (HEV).

How common is Hepatitis E?
While rare in the United States, Hepatitis E is common in many parts of the developing world.

How is Hepatitis E spread?
In areas with poor sanitation, Hepatitis E is usually spread by drinking water contaminated by the feces (or stool) of an infected person. Hepatitis E in developed countries may occur as a result of consumption of raw or undercooked pork or deer.

Who is at risk for Hepatitis E?
Travelers to areas with poor sanitation are at risk for Hepatitis E. Immunocompromised persons and solid organ transplant recipients are also at (an increased) risk (of complications from) for Hepatitis E.

Does Hepatitis E cause symptoms?
Some people with Hepatitis E do not have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes)

How soon after exposure to Hepatitis E will symptoms appear?
If symptoms occur, they usually appear anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after exposure. Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days.

How serious is Hepatitis E?
Hepatitis E can seriously affect pregnant women and immunocompromised persons.

How will I know if I have Hepatitis E?
Hepatitis E can only be diagnosed by your health care provider with the assistance of laboratory tests. You should see your health care provider if you are concerned about Hepatitis E?

How is Hepatitis E treated?
There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis E; it usually improves following supportive therapy.

Can Hepatitis E be prevented?
There is currently no FDA approved vaccine for prevention of Hepatitis E.

Travelers should avoid drinking unpurified water and eating raw or undercooked pig or deer.