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Hepatitis E

Definition

Hepatitis E (HEV) is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Hepatitis E, however, does not occur often in the United States.

Hepatitis E is reportable to the Iowa Department of Public Health by Iowa Administrative Code 641 Chapter 1.

Symptoms

Persons with hepatitis E infection may have no symptoms at all. Typical symptoms of acute hepatitis E include abdominal pain, anorexia, dark urine, fever, enlarged liver, jaundice, tiredness, nausea, and vomiting.

Causes

HEV is transmitted primarily by the fecal-oral route. Fecally contaminated drinking water or food are the most commonly documented methods of transmission.

Risk Factors

People who travel primarily in developing countries (Asia, Africa, Mexico) with inadequate environmental sanitation are at risk for disease. Infection is more common among adults than children. Symptom severity increases with age.

Prevention

There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis E. Travelers to areas where HEV is found should drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes if water purity is unknown. Also avoid uncooked shellfish, and uncooked fruit/vegetables not peeled or prepared by traveler.

Treatment

Supportive care only. The person usually gets well without treatment.

Additional Resources

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Health Care Providers

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