Medical Definition of Hepatitis E

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Hepatitis E: a type of liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). HEV is found throughout the world but is most common in south and east Asia. Humans develop the infection when the virus is shed in the stool of an infected person and then contaminates water or food sources and is ingested (known as fecal-oral transmission). The disease is seen most often in resource-limited areas where sanitation and hygiene practices may be insufficient. Symptoms begin an average of 5-6 weeks after infection and are similar to those of other types of hepatitis. These include mild fever, reduced appetite, nausea and vomiting, sometimes accompanied by abdominal pain, itching (without skin lesions), skin rash, or joint pain. Other symptoms include jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and sclera of the eyes), dark urine, pale stools, and enlargement and tenderness of the liver. Symptoms last for 1-6 weeks. In rare cases, fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure) can result and be life-threatening.

Reviewed on 10/5/2018

REFERENCE: World Health Organization. Fact Sheet: Hepatitis E.

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