Causes of hepatitis E

Learn about the causes of hepatitis E, how it is spread and where it is found.

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What causes hepatitis E?

Hepatitis E is caused by the hepatitis E virus. It is a liver disease.

How is hepatitis E spread?

Hepatitis E is spread from person to person through contact with infected feces.

You can get hepatitis E when you eat or drink something contaminated with infected feces. Once you are infected, your feces will contain the virus.

Common food sources of hepatitis E include:  

  • contaminated water or ice
  • raw or undercooked shellfish harvested from contaminated water
  • food or beverages prepared:
    • in unsanitary conditions
    • by an infected person who did not wash their hands properly after using the bathroom
  • undercooked meat from infected animals, such as:
    • pig
    • deer
    • wild boar

Hepatitis E can also spread if you do not properly wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.

Very rarely, it can spread:

  • from a pregnant woman to her child during pregnancy
  • through a blood transfusion

You can spread the disease within 30 days of being infected. If you have a weakened immune system, you are contagious for a longer time period.

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