What is Hepatitis E?
Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis E virus (HEV). HEV infection usually results in a self-limited, acute illness. It is widespread in the developing world. Although rare in developed countries, locally acquired HEV infection can result in acute hepatitis with a tendency to progress to chronic hepatitis mainly among solid organ transplant recipients.
Hepatitis E is most common in developing countries with inadequate water supply and environmental sanitation. Large hepatitis E epidemics have been reported in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Central America. People living in refugee camps or overcrowded temporary housing after natural disasters can be particularly at-risk.
Hepatitis E virus is usually spread by the fecal-oral route. The most common source of HEV infection is fecally contaminated drinking water. In developing countries, HEV genotypes 1 and 2 are spread by fecally contaminated drinking water.