Severe hepatitis E infection during pregnancy

J Viral Hepat. 1997 Jan;4(1):51-4. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2893.1997.00123.x.


In areas with endemic hepatitis E virus (HEV), acute liver failure secondary to hepatitis E infection is common in pregnancy and associated with a mortality rate of up to 20%. However, there is little information on the clinical course of severe hepatitis E infection during pregnancy in non-endemic areas such as the UK. Here we describe two cases of severe hepatitis E in pregnancy in patients returning from the Indian subcontinent. These cases were diagnosed by the detection of IgM anti-HEV antibody using an enzyme immunoassay with recombinant hepatitis E viral antigens. The first case describes acute hepatic failure, with coagulopathy and encephalopathy, warranting intensive therapy and elective ventilation. In the other case, the patient had severe hepatitis with coagulopathy. Both cases spontaneously resolved with no foetal loss. These cases highlight the need for suspicion of HEV infection in patients returning from endemic areas and presenting with acute non-A non-B hepatitis, especially when pregnant. Furthermore, the intensive treatment of acute liver failure caused by HEV may reduce the high mortality reported in Asia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hepatitis Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis E / immunology
  • Hepatitis E / physiopathology
  • Hepatitis E / therapy
  • Hepatitis E / virology*
  • Hepatitis E virus / immunology
  • Hepatitis E virus / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Liver Failure, Acute / physiopathology
  • Liver Failure, Acute / therapy
  • Liver Failure, Acute / virology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology*


  • Hepatitis Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M