Hepatitis E is a virus that infects your liver. It can cause your liver to swell up.

 

Most people with hepatitis E get better within a few months. But hepatitis E can be dangerous for pregnant women or anyone with weak immune systems, including the elderly or people who are ill.

 

The virus is shed in the stools of infected persons and enters the human body through the intestine. It is transmitted mainly through contaminated drinking water. Usually, the infection is self-limiting and resolves within 2–6 weeks. Occasionally a serious disease, known as fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure) develops, and a proportion of people with this disease can die.

 

CAUSES OF HEPATITIS E VIRUS

The hepatitis E virus spreads through poop. You can catch it if you drink or eat something that has been in contact with the stool of someone who has the virus. Hepatitis E is more common in parts of the world with poor handwashing habits and lack of clean water.

 

Other routes of transmission have been identified, but appear to account for a much smaller number of clinical cases. These routes of transmission include:

  • ingestion of undercooked meat or meat products derived from infected animals;
  • transfusion of infected blood products; and
  • vertical transmission from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

The ingestion of raw or uncooked shellfish may be the source of sporadic cases in endemic areas.

SYMPTOMS

You might not have any. If you do have symptoms, they may start anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after your infection. They may include:

  • Mild fever
  • Feeling very tired
  • Less hunger
  • Feeling sick to your stomach
  • Throwing up
  • Belly pain
  • Dark pee
  • Light-colored poop
  • Skin rash or itching
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowish skin or eyes

 

In rare cases, acute hepatitis E can be severe, and results in fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure); these patients are at risk of death. Fulminant hepatitis occurs more frequently when hepatitis E occurs during pregnancy. Pregnant women with hepatitis E, particularly those in the second or third trimester, are at an increased risk of acute liver failure, fetal loss, and mortality.

DIAGNOSIS & PREVENTION

The definitive diagnosis of hepatitis E infection is usually based on the detection of specific IgM antibodies to the virus in a person’s blood; this is usually adequate in areas where the disease is common.

 

Your doctor will ask for your medical history and details about your symptoms. Tell your doctor about any recent travel. Tell them if you think you might have had contact with water contaminated by sewage. Your doctor will use a blood test or a stool test to diagnose hepatitis E virus.

 

Additional tests include reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect the hepatitis E virus RNA in blood and/or stool; this assay requires specialized laboratory facilities. This test is particularly needed in areas where hepatitis E is infrequent, and in cases with chronic HEV infection.

There is no specific treatment capable of altering the course of acute hepatitis E. As the disease is usually self-limiting, hospitalization is generally not required. Hospitalization is required for people with fulminant hepatitis, however, and should also be considered for symptomatic pregnant women. This makes prevention the aptest and effective approach against the disease. This can include:

  • maintaining quality standards for public water supplies;
  • establishing proper disposal systems for human feces.

 

On an individual level, infection risk can be reduced by:

  • maintaining hygienic practices such as hand-washing with safe water, particularly before handling food;
  • avoiding consumption of water and/or ice of unknown purity; and
  • adhering to WHO safe food practices.

 

Prevention and control purely depend upon the improvement of the sanitary conditions of society—proper disposal of waste, avoidance of contamination of food and the provision of pure water. Health education of the general public on personal hygiene is very important. There is, so far, no protective vaccine available against the HEV infection. Studies on human serum immunoglobulin for passive prophylaxis have, so far, proved of no worth 

 

For more, visit www.thevitamincompany.com

 

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