Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Is Hepatitis E Fatal?

Hepatitis E is a viral infection that causes inflammation and damage to the liver. Inflammation is a swelling that occurs when body tissues are injured or infected. The inflammation can damage the organs.

Viruses invade the normal cells of the body. There are different types of hepatitis E virus that can be transmitted in different ways.

Is Hepatitis E Fatal?

Some types are transmitted by drinking contaminated water. These types occur most frequently in developing countries, including parts of Africa, Asia, Central America and the Middle East.

Other types are transmitted by eating undercooked pork or venison. These types are more common in developed countries, such as the United States, Australia, Japan, and parts of Europe and East Asia.

Hepatitis E typically causes an acute, that is, short-term infection.

Acute Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is a short-term infection. In most cases, the body can fight the infection and the virus disappears. Most people improve without treatment after a few weeks.

Chronic Hepatitis E

Hepatitis is a chronic infection that occurs when the body cannot fight the virus and it does not go away. Chronic hepatitis E is rare and only occurs in people with weakened immune systems. For example, hepatitis E can become chronic in people who take medicines that weaken their immune system after an organ transplant or in people who have HIV or AIDS.

Hepatitis E is more frequent in developing countries where hygienic conditions are not good and access to drinking water is limited.

The types of hepatitis E that are prevalent in developing countries generally cause serious infections, especially in pregnant women.

The types of hepatitis E that are prevalent in developed countries are often mild and do not cause symptoms. Many people do not know that they have had these types of hepatitis E.

The different types of hepatitis E usually affect different groups of people. The types of hepatitis E that are more frequent in developing countries are more likely to affect adolescents and young adults.

In contrast, the types of hepatitis E that is most common in developed countries affect mainly older men.

What Are The Complications of Hepatitis E?

Complications of Acute Hepatitis E

Most people recover from acute hepatitis E without complications. In some cases, acute hepatitis E can cause acute liver failure, that is, the liver suddenly stops working. Acute liver failure due to hepatitis E is more frequent in pregnant women and people who have other liver diseases.

In pregnant women, hepatitis E can cause other complications for the mother and the baby, such as fetal death, premature delivery or low birth weight.

Complications of Chronic Hepatitis E

Chronic hepatitis E, which is rare and only occurs in people with weakened immune systems, can cause complications such as cirrhosis or liver failure.

How is Hepatitis E Treated?

Treatment for acute hepatitis E includes resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating healthy foods to help relieve symptoms.

Talk to your doctor before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, vitamins, other dietary supplements, complementary or alternative medicine, as any of these could damage your liver. You should avoid alcoholic beverages until your doctor tells you that you have completely recovered from hepatitis E.

Check with your doctor regularly to make sure you have fully recovered.

Doctors can treat chronic hepatitis E with ribavirin or peginterferon alfa-2a.

How Can I Protect Myself From Hepatitis E Infection?

When you travel to a developing country, drink bottled water. Use bottled water to brush your teeth, make ice cubes and wash fruits and vegetables.

Also, make sure that any pork or venison you eat is well cooked, both in developing countries and in developed countries.


Hepatitis E is rarely a fatal disease. Fulminant hepatitis is an acute liver disease that occurs suddenly. It requires emergency medical intervention. The only causes of liver disease that have not been described as the cause of fulminant hepatitis are Hepatitis C and Hepatitis E viruses.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: July 27, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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