Hepatitis E is a liver inflammation caused by the virus HEV. It is fairly rare in Germany. Most infections occur during travel in certain countries and regions in which hepatitis E is more common (the Balkans, Middle East, North and West Africa, Central and South America, India). Hepatitis E is very dangerous for pregnant women.
Like hepatitis A, hepatitis E usually heals on its own, without causing permanent damage. For pregnant women, however, hepatitis E can be very dangerous. In approximately one in five pregnant women, hepatitis E can be very severe and lead to liver failure. It is then life-threatening.
In countries with inadequate hygiene, hepatitis E is usually transmitted via unclean water and food such as vegetables, fruit, mussels and ice cream. In industrialized countries, infection usually occurs due to insufficiently cooked game (deer, wild boar) or insufficiently cooked pork liver.
There is no vaccine against hepatitis E. Pregnant women should therefore try to avoid any risk of infection.
Such risks can be minimized by boiling water and avoiding ice, seafood, raw meat and fish when traveling in the regions mentioned above. Pregnant women should consume only bottled drinks and avoid ice cream. Care is advised with fruit and raw vegetables, which may have been washed in tap water.
In Germany, it is recommended that pregnant women eat pork liver and game only if it has been well-cooked, or that they avoid these altogether during pregnancy.
Unlike hepatitis A, hepatitis E does not confer immunity. It is possible to become infected again.
There is no treatment for hepatitis E. The illness usually heals on its own, without causing permanent damage. Pregnant women are an exception to this (see course of the infection).