In a follow-up on the ongoing hepatitis E outbreak in Chad, The Ministry of Public Health of Chad has officially declared an epidemic of Hepatitis E in the region of Salamat, south-eastern Chad. The epidemic has already claimed the life of 12 people, including 4 pregnant women.
A total of 956 cases have been identified so far. MSF and UNICEF are currently working with the authorities to provide a response, in a context of insufficient epidemiological surveillance, very limited presence of medical actors and lack of safe access to water and sanitation.
The clinical course of hepatitis E is similar to that of hepatitis A with no chronic form of the disease. Jaundice, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy are common symptoms.
People are infected primarily through the fecal-oral route, usually through contaminated water or food. There have been several cases of hepatitis E infection in France due to eating raw figatellu, which is made with pig liver.
Much like hepatitis A, the fatality rate is low with the exception of pregnant women where it can reach 20% among those infected in the third trimester. Liver failure is a frequent outcome with pregnant women.
Hepatitis E is found endemically in countries that have inadequate environmental sanitation. It is most frequently seen in Asia, Africa, Central America and the Middle East.