Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

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Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

Hepatitis E

Epidemiology

Hepatitis E is an illness of the liver caused by the hepatitis E virus, a virus which can infect both animals and humans.

Hepatitis E occurs in all parts of the world especially where sanitation may be poor including Asia, Africa and Central America. However, hepatitis E infection can also be acquired in this country.  The number of confirmed hepatitis E cases in the UK have increased significantly over the past few years.

Main Clinical Features

Hepatitis E infection usually produces a mild disease. However, disease symptoms can vary from no apparent symptoms to liver failure.

The symptoms of hepatitis E can include

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Darkening of the urine and pale stools

Sometimes symptoms include:

  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

Incubation period

The average incubation period is 40 days (range 15 to 60 days), however not everyone will develop symptoms

Surveillance

To increase understanding of the epidemiology of hepatitis E infection an enhanced surveillance system was introduced in April 2016 for a period of 12 months

Information leaflet