Hepatitis E – Causes and symptoms

In 1955 almost 29000 people were affected by a large epidemic of acute hepatitis in New Delhi, India due to a contamination in the city’s drinking water reserves. At that time medical officials believed that this was an outbreak of hepatitis A and in the early 1990s some medical scientist wanted to test blood samples that were drawn and stored from some patients that were affected in the New Delhi epidemic. A large amount of surprise came when a new infectious viral agent was discovered that was named enteric, which would be related to the intestine or the gut, which was not hepatitis A virus or hepatitis B virus.
Due to this study scientists form the medical community where able to identify the viral agent’s molecular components and from that point forth it became known as hepatitis E, the name being chosen because of the wish to illustrate the epidemic, endemic and enteric qualities that this viruses’ epidemiology contains and at the same time it made sense alphabetically, hepatitis A, B, C and D being already existent and identified as being viruses that will cause hepatitis, known as liver infection, only in humans.


The hepatitis E virus has some similarities to the hepatitis C virus as being a positive-strand RNA, ribonucleic acid, virus that will appear to be as a unique agent, and could not be catalogued as belonging to a type of virus family in spite of its shared characteristics with the Calicivirus family. Hepatitis E virus was placed in a separate family named hepatitis E-live viruses by the International Committee of the Taxonomy of Viruses and its analysis showed that this type of virus will develop a genetically distinct group that will be closet to the rubella virus then to the caliciviridae family members.


The genetic material of the hepatitis E virus will insert into the infected cell when entering a cell and then that cell will produce progeny viruses. Within the liver will occur most of the replication of this type of virus and its particles will be most likely pre3sent in the feces and bile of the infected person from the first week within the incubation period of the illness.

In humans this period will be up to nine weeks to a minimum of three weeks and the patients that will develop it will at the same time develop symptoms that are typical foe hepatitis infections like nausea, fever, anorexia, cola-colored urine, upper abdominal pain and jaundice, that is a yellow coloring of the whites of the eyes and of the skin. Sadly, the infection with the hepatitis E virus can be almost invisible in children because in most cases they will not present any symptoms at all. Studies are not clear yet on the fact if this type of infection will be a stepping stone to other infection to join or the immune system will kick in at its full potential.

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