Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is responsible for major outbreaks of acute hepatitis in developing countries where it was first described as a waterborne disease, transmitted by drinking water contaminated with feces. Attention was focused on HEV in developed countries and its associated diseases in recent years as a result of increasing reports of autochthonous infections. Hepatitis E is the zoonotic cause of these acute infections, and mainly in men over 50 years of age. The clinical manifestations and laboratory abnormalities of hepatitis E infections in immunocompetent patients cannot be distinguished from those caused by other hepatitis viruses. HEV is a major public health concern in immunocompromised patients because their infections can become chronic. The specific etiology of cases of hepatitis E infection can be diagnosed by serological testing and detecting viral RNA. Ribavirin is currently the reference treatment for HEV infections in immunocompromised patients. Several vaccines have proved safe and effective in clinical trials, but none have been approved for use in Europe yet.
Keywords: Chronic infection; Hepatitis E virus; Infection chronique; Virus de l’hépatite E.
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