Hepatitis E virus (HEV) was discovered during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, after an outbreak of unexplained hepatitis at a military camp. A pooled faecal extract from affected soldiers was ingested by a member of the research team. He became sick, and the new virus (named HEV), was detected in his stool by electron microscopy. Subsequently, endemic HEV has been identified in many resource-poor countries. Globally, HEV is the most common cause of acute viral hepatitis. The virus was not initially thought to occur in developed countries, but recent reports have shown this notion to be mistaken. The aim of this Seminar is to describe recent discoveries regarding HEV, and how they have changed our understanding of its effect on human health worldwide.
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