First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Health Library > Hepatitis E
Hepatitis E is a virus that can infect the liver.
Unlike other forms of hepatitis, the hepatitis E virus usually doesn't lead to long-term illness or serious liver damage. Most people get well within a few months.
People usually get hepatitis E by drinking water or eating food that's been contaminated by feces (stool) from someone infected with hepatitis E. But people also can get hepatitis E from contact with an animal, such as eating undercooked meat from or touching an infected pig.
It's uncommon to get the disease directly from another person. There's no evidence that you can get hepatitis E by having sex with someone.
It's very unlikely that you would get infected more than once with the hepatitis E virus.
After you've been exposed to the virus, it can take from 2 to 7 weeks before you see any signs of it. Symptoms usually last for about 2 months.
Common symptoms are:
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and where you've eaten or traveled. You may have blood tests if your doctor thinks you have the virus. These tests can tell if your liver is inflamed and whether you have antibodies to the hepatitis E virus. Having these antibodies in your blood proves that you have been exposed to the virus.
Hepatitis E goes away on its own in most cases. To help yourself get better faster:
If your symptoms are severe or if you're pregnant, talk to your doctor. You may need to be treated in a hospital.
Hepatitis E is more common in developing countries in Central and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Central America. If you visit these countries, you can lower your chances of getting the disease if you:
There is currently no approved vaccine for hepatitis E.
People who have had any kind of viral hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E) since they were 11 years old are not allowed to donate blood.
Other Works Consulted
Centers for Disease Control (2009). Hepatitis E FAQs for Health Professionals. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HEV/HEVfaq.htm.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2013). Donating blood questions and answers. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/DonatingBlood/default.htm. Accessed January 8, 2015.
World Health Organization (2014). Hepatitis E: Fact sheet 280. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs280/en. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Current as of: June 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineW. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
Current as of:
June 9, 2019
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & W. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
10030 Green Level Church Road
Cary, NC 27519
166 Springbrook Ave.
Clayton, NC 27520
400 Health Park Drive
REX Healthcare of Garner, Suite 100
Garner, NC 27529
781 Avent Ferry Road
REX Healthcare of Holly Springs, Suite 204
Holly Springs, NC 27540
6905 Knightdale Blvd.
Knightdale, NC 27545
UNC REX Healthcare4420 Lake Boone TrailRaleigh, NC 27607, USA919-784-3100
Chosen for Excellence
Co-Worker & Physician Login
UNC Health Talk
Copyright 2020 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.