Hepatitis E infection is a disease of the liver caused by hepatitis E virus (HEV). This virus can infect both animals and humans. It can be spread from animals to humans through the consumption of undercooked or raw pig and game meat, processed pork and shellfish. It has also been shown to be spread directly through handling animals, particularly pigs.
Hepatitis E infection often has no symptoms or causes mild disease. Therefore many cases are not diagnosed. In general, people who are infected with hepatitis E fully recover within 4-6 weeks without any treatment. However, people with suppressed immune systems may develop chronic (long-term) infection. This is very rare. More severe disease can also occur in a small number of cases. Hepatitis E infection may result in liver failure in those who already have liver disease and some people with hepatitis E may develop neurological symptoms.
Hepatitis E became a notifiable disease in Ireland in December 2015 and the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) introduced hepatitis E screening for all blood donations on January 4th 2016. Notifications include cases of hepatitis E that are detected through IBTS blood donor screening and cases of hepatitis E that are diagnosed because they present to a GP or hospital with clinical symptoms of viral hepatitis.
Number of hepatitis E notifications by year and quarter, 2016 to 2020
Last updated: 5 March 2021