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Is Hepatitis E deadly, and how to reduce the risk?

Is Hepatitis E deadly, and how to reduce the risk? How to protect yourself from hepatitis E (photo: Freepik)

There is another type of hepatitis that poses an equally significant threat, and it is essential to understand its impact on individuals and ways to safeguard oneself, according to the website "Take Care".

The infection impacts a significant population

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hepatitis E (HEV) is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. Each year, there are approximately 20 million cases of HEV infection reported worldwide, with 3.3 million being symptomatic.

Hepatitis E has the potential to cause fatality

In 2015, there were 44,000 fatalities caused by the hepatitis E virus. It has been observed that pregnant women are at a higher risk of mortality with a rate of over 25%.

The infection is typically transmitted via the fecal-oral route

One primary route of infection is via contaminated water. Hepatitis E can also be transmitted through infected animal meat and insufficiently heat-treated meat products.

The pathogen can also be disseminated through transfusion of contaminated blood products or from a pregnant mother to her child.

The infection is being documented worldwide

Hepatitis E shows a higher incidence in areas of East and South Asia, whereas, in Ukraine, there have been reported cases of this infection in Eastern Ukraine.

There is a vaccine available to prevent the disease

The hepatitis E vaccine is solely accessible in China, where it was created and enlisted. The vaccine is recommended for individuals aged 16-65 who are at a high risk of contracting this form of hepatitis due to particular work or lifestyle conditions.

Symptoms of Hepatitis E

According to the Public Health Center of Ukraine, the main symptoms are as follows

  • fever, lack of appetite;
  • nausea and vomiting, which can last up to several days;
  • jaundice (yellowish coloration of the skin and eye sclera);
  • dark color of urine;
  • the liver slightly increases in size and becomes more sensitive;
  • sometimes people complain of abdominal pain, itching, skin rashes, or joint pain.

How to reduce the risk of the disease

It is crucial to only consume uncontaminated water. In case it is not accessible, it is advisable to either boil, chlorinate, or purchase verified bottled water.

This is particularly significant when voyaging to nations where hepatitis E is more widespread, specifically in Southeast Asia, Central Africa, and Mexico.

Additionally, it is recommended to abstain from consuming undercooked meat. Also, always wash your hands thoroughly before eating, after using the restroom, and in crowded places.

How hepatitis E is treated

There is currently no known specific therapy for this disease. In cases of severe manifestation, hospitalization may become necessary. However, in the majority of cases, the disease spontaneously remits, only requiring supportive care.

During the period of illness, it is important to

  • quality rest,
  • sufficient fluid intake,
  • a ban on alcohol and drugs that adversely affect the liver.

In severe cases, acute hepatitis E can progress to malignancy, resulting in acute liver failure and an increased risk of death. This type of infection is more prevalent among pregnant women.

Previously, we reported what to do in case of suspected hepatitis A.