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Original Content

Hepatitis E; A viral outbreak

Prevention is always better than cure!

Hepatitis E; A viral outbreak

Understanding "hepatitis"

Hepatitis is simply the inflammation of the liver which is primarily caused by Hepatitis virus which may be an RNA or a DNA virus depending on the type of disease.

Types of hepatitis

Hepatitis A

Caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV) which is normally transmitted by the contaminated food or the faeces of a person infected from HAV.

Hepatitis B

Transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, or semen, containing the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Hepatitis C

A most dangerous type, virus (HCV) is transmitted directly through body fluids as well as used syringes and razors etc.

Hepatitis D

The rare form of hepatitis usually occurs concurrently with the hepatitis B infection.

Hepatitis E

A waterborne disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV) occurs due to poor sanitation system and particularly by ingesting the contaminated water which is having HEV in it.


Every year, there are an estimated 20 million HEV infections worldwide, leading to an estimated 3.3 million symptomatic cases of hepatitis E although found worldwide, the prevalence is highest in East and South Asia.


As mentioned before, the reason for its transmission is the faecal-oral route due to the faecal contamination of the drinking water owing to the improper sanitation system. Other routes may include:

• ingestion of undercooked meat or meat products derived from infected animals;

• transfusion of infected blood products

• Transmission from a pregnant woman to her fetus.


It takes about 2-10 weeks for the virus to incubate, replicate and show the symptoms which include:

Initial Phase: mild fever, rash on the skin, reduced appetite, abdominal  pain or vomiting

Moderate Phase: jaundice with yellow urine and pale stools

Advanced Phase: "hepatomegaly" which is described as the enlargement of the liver than its original size.


It is a self-limiting disease and does not require any sort of treatment.


At Population Level

Transmission of HEV and hepatitis E disease can be reduced by:

1. maintaining quality standards for public water supplies

2. Establishing proper disposal systems for human faeces

On an Individual Level

1. maintaining hygienic practices such as hand-washing with safe water, particularly before handling food

2. avoiding consumption of water and/or ice of unknown purity

3. adhering to WHO safe food practices.


We should take a few steps and precautions to save our own selves from this deadly disease like drinking pure and clean water after boiling and using the water from a trusted source. 

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