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Hepatitis E – what is it and how do we get it?

Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by infection with the hepatitis E virus, and leads to jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting and fever, as well as more serious complications in certain groups. It was previously thought to be a problem only in the developing world, where infection occurs via contaminated drinking water. However, more recent research suggests it may be contracted in the UK and other European countries by eating under-cooked pork or by receiving transfusions of infected blood.


Speakers came along to the Science Media Centre to discuss issues such as:

  • How do we contract hepatitis E?
  • How serious is the disease for different groups of people?
  • Is our food and water routinely tested for hepatitis E contamination?
  • Are blood donations routinely screened for hepatitis E contamination?
  • How can we cook food differently to reduce the risk of being infected?
  • What treatments are available – can it be cured?



Dr Harry Dalton, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust and Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter

Dr Richard Bendall, Department of Clinical Microbiology, Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust

Prof Richard Tedder, Professor of Medical Virology, UCL

Prof Hans Zaaijer, Department of Blood-borne Infections, Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation, Netherlands

Prof Jacques Izopet, Professor of Virology, Toulouse University Hospital, France

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