Hepatitis E

Transmission and prevention

Hepatitis E is usually transmitted through contaminated drinking water or food; occasionally also through living closely with someone who has the infection. It is possible that genotype 3 of the hepatitis E virus can be transmitted through contact with animals (e.g. pigs or deer) or through eating meat in which the hepatitis E virus has not been killed by thorough cooking. 

Hepatitis E is found relatively rarely in Europe, but may be under-diagnosed. It is more often found in the Middle East, southeast and central Asia, Africa and South America. People who travel to or live in high-risk areas are most affected by hepatitis E. Consuming uncooked meat or offal from wild or domestic pigs could also be a transmission risk.

A vaccine against hepatitis E has been available in China since 2012, but not in Europe. In high-risk areas, drinking water should be disinfected and uncooked foods should be avoided. Transplant patients and people living with HIV or AIDS should avoid raw or inadequately cooked meat (especially pork).

Glossary

genotype

A strain or subtype of a virus. For hepatitis C, genotypes are identified by a number (e.g. genotypes 1,2,3,4,5 and 6); some subtypes have also been identified (e.g. genotypes 1a and 1b). For hepatitis B, genotypes are identified by a letter (A to H). The genotype may influence the risk of disease progression for both viruses; some genotypes respond differently to some treatments.

This information is provided by Deutsche Leberhilfe e.V.