Faeces containing the virus are transferred to another person’s mouth.
Most infections in Australia are associated with travel to countries where hepatitis E is endemic (always present).
Less commonly, infection can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, or through infected blood transfusion.
Course & outcome of infection
Symptoms are rare in young children. Disease is usually self-limiting with recovery but can be serious, particularly in pregnant women.
Does not occur in hepatitis E infection
Vaccine or PEP
Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
Antibiotics, vaccination or immunoglobulin (a solution containing human antibodies that is made from blood products) may be offered to contacts after exposure to some infectious diseases. A contact is any person who has been close enough to an infected person to be at risk of having acquired the infection from that person. PEP may prevent the development of the infection during the incubation period, make the infection less severe if it does develop, or reduce the risk of the infection being passed on to other people.
An acute infection occurs when symptoms show up soon after the person is infected (usually within days or weeks). Symptoms may include abdominal discomfort, nausea, fever, fatigue, sometimes followed by jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
There may be no symptoms but the person remains infected. Chronic infection may lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure or liver cancer in some people
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