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What is Hepatitis E and should you worry?

Posted by Stuart Rose on

Almost everybody is familiar with hepatitis A which is a viral disease spread by contaminated food and water, and which can be prevented by vaccination.

Less known is hepatitis E,  which is spread the same way, but for which there is no vaccine yet in the US. China approved the first vaccine against Hepatitis E in 2012.

Like hepatitis A, most cases resolve within a few weeks, although some people develop fatal hepatic failure, or need a liver transplant. The typical illness can be more severe than Hepatitis A. The main risk is to pregnant women, where the mortality is about 20%. 

Hepatitis E is common in South East Asia and the incidence spikes during the monsoon season or freak flooding, which leads to fecal contamination of drinking water. 

Travelers to India and Nepal should be wary, especially if pregnant. Read more here.

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