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Hepatitis E – A new era in understanding

Georgia Lucas 2,  
Department of Infectious Diseases, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Clinical Research Association for Infectious Disease at the Department of Infectious Diseases, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Hepatitis E virus [HEV], the last of the five hepatotropic viruses to be discovered, was originally considered to cause an acute, travel-associated self-limiting illness restricted to humans; however, new research shows that there are animal reservoirs and zoonotic transmission. Additionally, HEV is now considered as a major health burden worldwide, leading to significant morbidity and mortality; therefore, the topic of hepatitis E is of re-emerging importance, having brought to light important questions such as the transmission of HEV, especially in developed countries, as well as treatment and vaccination options. HEV belongs to the genus Hepevirus in the Hepeviridae family. The HEV genome sequence is relatively stable; however, there is a diversity of genotypes which are helpful in comprehending the epidemiological phenomena. HEV is classified based on the nucleotide sequences of the genome and is now characterised as a single serotype with four major genotypes [HEV 1–4]. Hepatitis E cases are not clinically distinguishable from other types of acute viral hepatitis, although diagnosis can be strongly suspected in certain epidemiological settings. It is imperative to raise awareness among physicians about the importance of HEV, with the aim of helping recognise, prevent and treat HEV infections. This review article highlights the current developments of HEV in microbiology, epidemiology, clinical features, treatment and prophylaxis.
Joanna Małgorzata Krzowska-Firych   
Department of Infectious Diseases, Medical University, Lublin, Staszica 16, 20-089 Lublin, Poland
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