Hepatitis E – Overview

Infection with hepatitis E virus will cause an acute viral hepatitis and is now the leading cause of this in the entire world, being a major threat in Mexico, Central Asia and Africa. It is the sole responsible for almost half of the outbreaks of acute hepatitis infection in adults and children in several areas where it is endemic and it will be more prevalent worldwide then the infection with hepatitis A virus, researchers suspecting that almost 20% of the entire population of the planet will be infected with the hepatitis E virus or also known as HEV. This type of illness will strike in people between the ages of 14 to 50 and in cases of infection with small children involved there is almost never any type of symptoms.
From the 1990s there have been water-borne hepatitis epidemics notices in the former Soviet Union, New Delhi, Nepal, India, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Algeria, Cote D’Ivoire or the Ivory Coast, refugee camps in Sudan and Somalia and Borneo.


This type of virus will be transmitted through water and food that will be contaminated by the feces of infected people but ate the same time not like the hepatitis A virus, the hepatitis E virus will not be transmitted through close person to person contact. Another similarity with hepatitis A is that hepatitis E virus will never develop into a chronic or better know a long term disease but in adults it is quite severe, even more severe than hepatitis A, statistics showing us that there are death rates that will reach almost 2 percent and in comparison death rates for the hepatitis A virus infection are less than 0.4 percent.

The symptoms of hepatitis E virus infection are quite similar to the general symptoms that a person will have in any hepatitis illness as malaise, abdominal pains, fever, anorexia and jaundice. Its acute stage will last solely a maximum of two weeks and while the children that get infected with hepatitis E virus will not present any symptoms, adults will have them mildly and pregnant women will suffer severely from this illness.

Studies have shown that due to the replication and the molecular structure of the hepatitis E virus there are unique strains or also known as genotypes of this type of illness. A quite recent study made on 30 Chinese residents that are suffering from acute hepatitis E showed that almost 40 percent of them have a unique new strain of the virus but research on this matter is still ongoing and the medical community is still expecting new genotypes to develop as new things will be learned about the hepatitis E virus. There is a molecular difference between the hepatitis E virus that is found in India and the one that was found in Southeast Asia and are catalogued as type 1 or Burmese genotypes.

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