Hepatitis E is a disease caused by a virus known as the Hepatitis E virus otherwise known as HEV which is a small virus. It is a very acute and serious disease and it usually targets the liver. Most cases of hepatitis E are caused by contamination of drinking and cooking water by faeces or fecal matters.
According to the World Health Organizations (W.H.O), there are about 20million cases of Hepatitis E occurs every year and about 44, 000 of these cases results in death. Hepatitis E is mostly found among citizens in developing countries. Most times, hepatitis will resolve itself and go into remission but sometimes, if it doesn’t resolve itself and go into remission, it will lead to acute liver failure.
Just like the HDV virus, the HEV virus likewise has genotypes and it is made from the RNA. There are about 3-4 genotypes. Only the 1st and 2nd genotype are found in humans while the remaining genotypes are found circulating among different several animals. It doesn’t cause diseases in animals, but it is very harmful in humans.
This disease is transmitted in infected fecal matter from infected people and this virus enters into the body through the intestines. It can also enter the body by coming in contact with contaminated water. Most times, this disease usually resolves itself and doesn’t enter into the acute stage.
Symptoms experienced by a person who has Hepatitis E includes yellowish coloration of the eyes and skin, severe joint pain, dark or darkish brown urine, loss of appetite, severe abdominal pain, acute liver enlargement and swelling due to inflammation, liver failure, severe or mild fever, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, severe fatigue and tiredness.
When a water is contaminated by an infected fecal matter, the water becomes contaminated and if by any means, the water enters into the body, the body will then become infected. Most people staying in underdeveloped or developing countries are more at risk and those who stay in a poor area with poor sanitation will also likewise be prone to these diseases.
Also, since these viruses is carried or transmitted by an infected fecal matter, sometimes animals can also unknowingly carry this fecal matter and then when they come in contact with human food, they can likewise infect the food or fruit.
This disease too has two phases; the acute phase and the chronic phase. During the acute phase, the incubation period is 6-8 weeks, after which the patient begins to experience different symptoms. For a person to be severely affected by this disease, the person would have already been severely immune-compromised.
In this type of patients, they would begin to experience the chronic Hepatitis E. Infections caused by the Hepatitis E virus can cause problems in other organs such as acute pancreatitis, cryoglobulinemia, severe low platelet counts otherwise known as thrombocytopenia.
A pregnant woman infected with hepatitis E has the tendency to infect her unborn foetus with this disease. They usually exhibit a more severe form of infection much more than anyone else. Besides this symptoms of this acute infection, the pregnant woman may experience severe adverse maternal issues as well as fetal problems or distress such as premature delivery, abortion, miscarriage or still birth.
Most times, there is no treatment that can adequately stop or alter the move of acute hepatitis E. Most of the time, the disease usually resolves itself and so hospital care isn’t needed. But for those who have fulminant hepatitis, hospital care is needed. Likewise, for pregnant women, hospital care and medications are needed.
The best approach towards this disease is to prevent this disease. This disease can be prevented by taking the following precautions:
- Water supplies should be kept away from dirty places: For those who have to store water, ensure that you are getting water from a clean source before using to cook
- Always ensure you boil your water before drinking as heat has the ability to kill this virus
- Ensure you maintain good hygiene practices such as washing of hands before and after food, and also after using the rest room.
- Avoid taking water or ice of unknown origin. If you must take it, boil it
- Ensure proper disposal of waste.
- Children should be properly vaccinated against this disease.
- After changing a baby diaper, mother’s and caretakers should ensure that they properly wash their hands with soap and water.
- Ensure you don’t eat under cooked meat, fish or shell fish. Make sure you cook them properly under high or medium heat so as to kill all the viruses which may be hiding in them.