Key facts

  • Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by infection with a virus known as hepatitis E virus (HEV).
  • Every year, there are an estimated 20 million HEV infections worldwide, leading to an estimated 3.3 million symptomatic cases of hepatitis E(1), and 56 600 hepatitis E-related deaths (2).
  • WHO estimates that hepatitis E caused approximately 44 000 deaths in 2015 (accounting for 3.3% of the mortality due to viral hepatitis).
  • The virus is transmitted via the faecal-oral route, principally via contaminated water.
  • Hepatitis E is found worldwide, but the prevalence is highest in East and South Asia.
  • A vaccine to prevent hepatitis E virus infection has been developed and is licensed in China, but is not yet available elsewhere.

Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV): a small virus, with a positive-sense, single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) genome. The virus has at least 4 different types: genotypes 1, 2, 3 and 4. Genotypes 1 and 2 have been found only in humans. Genotype 3 and 4 viruses circulate in several animals (including pigs, wild boars, and deer) without causing any disease, and occasionally infect humans.

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.

read more on: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs280/en/

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