Hepatitis E: review of a disease endemic in Pakistan

Document Type



Medical College Pakistan


Hepatitis E is enterically transmitted causing a self-limiting illness similar to hepatitis A. However, unlike hepatitis A, immunity to hepatitis E is not life long, hepatitis E is a disease of developing nations with improper sewage disposal and unclean water supplies. It is thought to be the most common cause of acute sporadic hepatitis in Pakistan, where it has also caused major epidemics. Hepatitis E causes a mild self-limiting illness with no long-term sequelae. However, it is especially severe in pregnant females in the second and third trimesters, in whom it results in a high mortality rate (up to 20%) and an increased incidence of stillbirths. Diagnosis depends on clinical findings and elevated hepatic enzymes. Protection from this disease in endemic areas lies mainly in prevention, as the vaccine for hepatitis E is still in the experimental stage. Provision of clean drinking water, hand washing before eating and proper disposal of sewage has been shown to decrease the incidence of this disease.


Journal of Pakistan Medical Association