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Hepatitis E

Please click the frequently asked questions below for further information and IPC precautions required:

  • What is Hepatitis E?

    Hepatitis E is an illness of the liver caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV), which can infect both animals and humans.

    HEV infection usually produces a mild disease however pregnant women are at greater risk of severe illness which can, in rare cases, be fatal.  This is more likely to occur with the strains that are found in Africa and Asia and less common in strains commonly found in the UK. Infection will normally clear by itself within one to four weeks.  Chronic infection of the liver (lasting over 6 months) is very rare and usually only reported in patients with a suppressed immune system.

  • How does it spread?

    It is usually spread by the faecal-oral route.

    In developing countries, where HEV genotypes 1 and 2 predominate, the most common source of HEV infection is contaminated drinking water.

    In developed countries, sporadic cases have occurred following consumption of uncooked/undercooked pork or deer meat. Consumption of shellfish was a risk factor in a recently described outbreak that occurred among cruise ship passengers.

  • What are the main symptoms of Hepatitis E?

    Symptoms include:

    • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
    • Darkening of the urine
    • Pale stools

    Patients may also experience:

    • Tiredness
    • Fever
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal pain
    • Loss of appetite
  • IPC Precautions
    • Contact precautions should be used
    • Hand Hygiene should be completed as per the 5 moments in line with usual practice with Soap and Water.
    • Eye protection should always be risk assessed and used with any patient where there is a risk of splashes including spitting and productive coughing.
    • Gloves and Aprons should be worn
    • Laundry should be treated as contaminated, placed into an alginate bag and placed into a red laundry bag.
  • What cleaning is required?

    All equipment and the ambulance should have an in-between patient clean, paying particular attention to touch points.

  • Why is this information important?

    If NIAS staff are aware that the patient has a suspected or confirmed case this should be communicated to the Control Room (Emergency or Non-emergency as appropriate) and the staff in the receiving unit when transferring the patient to ensure effective patient care and management.

  • Do staff need prophylaxis or follow up?

    No follow up is required for staff however staff should remain vigilant for symptoms.