Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is a preventable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). The HEV causes acute sporadic and epidemic viral hepatitis. The incubation period following exposure to hepatitis E ranges from 3 to 8 weeks, with a mean of 40 days.


The general symptoms of hepatitis E can be:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain and tenderness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark coloured urine
  • Pale feces
  • Jaundice in some cases (yellow discoloration of the skin and sclera of the eyes)

People who have the virus may be infectious for up to two weeks after their symptoms appear.


The hepatitis E virus is spread in a way similar to hepatitis A known as ‘fecal-oral’. This means that the virus is passed out in bowel motions and finds its way into the mouth. The risk for hepatitis E is higher in parts of the world that have poor sanitation conditions. Transmission can occur when a person:

  • Drinks from a fecal contaminated drinking supply of water
  • Eats food that has been touched by contaminated hands
  • Ingests contaminated raw or uncooked shellfish

Person-to-person transmission is uncommon and there is no evidence for sexual transmission.   For more information on hepatitis E, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-e