Key Points about Hepatitis E

  • Hepatitis E is a liver infection caused by a virus.
  • Your specialist can diagnose hepatitis E using a blood or stool test.
  • There is no specific treatment for hepatitis E, and the virus typically resolves within four to six weeks.


Hepatitis E is a condition that causes swelling (inflammation) of the liver. In most cases, hepatitis E resolves without any long-term complications. However, the infection can be dangerous for people with compromised immune systems, including pregnant women or the elderly.

Hepatitis E causes

Hepatitis E is caused by the hepatitis E virus, which spreads through contact with contaminated fecal matter.

Hepatitis E risk factors

Hepatitis E infection is rare in the United States. You are at an increased risk for contracting hepatitis E:

  • Eating undercooked meat from infected animals, including pigs or deer
  • Eating shellfish from contaminated water
  • Having visited a developing area of the world
  • Having visited an area that doesn’t have modern water and sewage systems

Hepatitis E symptoms

Some people with hepatitis E infection don’t experience any symptoms. When they do occur, signs and symptoms typically appear two to six weeks after infection. Symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Decreased appetite
  • Itching
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Joint pain
  • Light-colored stool
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Unexplainable skin rash

Hepatitis E diagnosis

Your specialist will perform a blood or stool test to diagnose hepatitis E. A sample of your blood or stool will be sent to the lab to determine if the hepatitis E virus is present.

Hepatitis E treatment

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis E, and it usually goes away within four to six weeks. While your body is fighting the virus, you should get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods, drinking plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol.

If you have a compromised immune system and are diagnosed with hepatitis E, you may have to stay in the hospital for close monitoring while your body fights the infection.

When should I seek care?

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a liver specialist for more specialized treatment.

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