A significant number of experts have long considered Hepatitis E as a liver disease caused by infection with a virus known as hepatitis E virus (HEV). Doctors say that Hepatitis E is usually self-limiting but some cases may develop into fulminant hepatitis or acute liver failure, and every year, there are an estimated 20 million HEV infections worldwide, leading to an estimated 3.3 million symptomatic cases of hepatitis E. It was found that Hepatitis E is transmitted via the fecal-oral route and can possibly be spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water and is commonly found in developing countries such as India, and in continents like Asia, Africa and Central America.
Hepatitis E Symptoms
According to reports revealed by Hepatitis Australia, health experts usually describe Hepatitis E as a disease that causes an acute but short-term illness and does not cause a chronic or life-long infection. Additionally, the time that the infection symptoms develop would typically range from 15 to 60 days, with an average of 40 days. In areas with high disease endemicity, health experts said that symptomatic infection is most common in young adults aged 15-40 years and although infection does occur in children, they often have either no symptoms or only a mild illness without jaundice that goes undiagnosed.
Furthermore, it was found that common symptoms of acute hepatitis E are similar to those of other types of viral hepatitis and include fever, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and the most noticeable symptom which is jaundice or having a yellowish eyes and skin, dark urine and pale-colored feces. Proper diagnosis of hepatitis E is performed by a blood test that usually detects either the antibodies or the virus itself. However, as of the press time, there is no treatment and no vaccine available for hepatitis E and the prevention of it, since its basically caused by a virus, and antibiotics therefore, has no bearing in the treatment of the infection.
Risks Of The Rare Disease
Meanwhile, as reported by The Age, passengers on board two Golden Princess cruises that have docked in Port Melbourne have just recently been warned to look for signs of hepatitis E after a crew member was diagnosed with the disease. However, authorities have highly emphasized that only passengers on the ship between between February 8 and 15 are at any risk of infection. Ultimately, the operator of Princess Cruises have already notified the Department of Health and Human Services and has even sent letters to passengers who might be affected. Professor Charles Guest, Victoria's Chief Health Officer has added that passengers were at very low risk and were unlikely to become unwell and that there is no threat to the Victorian community.