Hepatitis E

What is it? 

Hepatitis E causes liver disease, usually resulting in an acute illness. It is widespread in the developing world. Although rare in Australia, Hepatitis E is seen only occasionally in travellers returning from areas of high hepatitis E prevalence, such as Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent hepatitis E infection can result in acute hepatitis with tendency to progress to chronic hepatitis mainly among solid organ transplant recipients.

How is it transmitted? 

  • Hepatitis E is transmitted via water sources contaminated with faeces containing the virus (faecal-oral transmission similar to hepatitis A)

Activities which place people at risk

  • Oral contact with contaminated food, water
  • Contaminated hand to mouth contact

Short term effects

Symptoms last for 2 to 3 weeks and can include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-coloured stool
  • Joint pain

Long term effects 

  • Pregnant women, Hepatitis E can be a serious illness with mortality reaching 10%–30% in their third trimester of pregnancy.
  • Hepatitis E could also be serious among persons with preexisting chronic liver disease resulting in decompensated liver disease and death.
  •  Similarly high mortality can occur among solid organ transplant recipients on immunosuppressive therapy.


  • No vaccine for Hepatitis E is currently available


  • Prevention of Hepatitis E relies primarily on good sanitation and the availability of clean drinking water


Hepatitis E can be confirmed only by testing for the presence of antibody against HEV or HEV RNA. If you have travelled to a hepatitis E endemic region and have symptoms of viral hepatitis but tested negative for serologic markers of Hepatitis A, B, C, and other hepatotropic viruses ask your GP to test for HEV RNA

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