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Health officials in the Czech Republic report an increase in the number of cases hepatitis E across the Moravian-Silesian region and across the whole country.

Czech Republic
Czech Republic

Doctors in the Moravian-Silesian region are noticing an increase in the number of patients with hepatitis E, which used to be rather rare. While last year, according to regional officials, 21 patients fell ill with this infection, this year 41 infected people have already sought medical help, six of whom became infected in June.

“319 cases of hepatitis E were reported in 2022, this year we have 221 new cases by the end of May. We are waiting for the June statistics,” said Štěpánka Čechová, spokeswoman for the State Health Institute (SZÚ). 

Like hepatitis A, type E is spread through water and food, unlike hepatitis B and C, where C is transmitted through blood and type B through blood, sexual contact, and from mother to child during childbirth.

Hepatitis E was previously associated with traveling to countries with poorer hygiene standards, including the quality of drinking water. Gradually, however, doctors began to diagnose the infection in people spending their holidays at home.

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“Until 2000, there were only a few cases of hepatitis E per year in the Czech Republic,” said Petr Kümpel, head of the infectious disease department of the Opava Silesian Hospital. Epidemics in Asia were known at the time, where 120,000 people fell ill in China between 1986 and 1988. According to hygienists, there is no risk of spreading the disease in the Czech Republic at the moment. But the growing number of sick people worries doctors. For example, only two patients with hepatitis E were hospitalized in the Opava hospital in 2021, compared to five last year and twelve this year. “But what is significantly more serious is the fact that earlier the course of the disease was mild. But in the last year, we already have a third patient in our care with a very severe course,” Kümpel pointed out. “Perhaps the patient we received recently may be at risk of liver failure. We have started anti-viral treatment and are trying to find out how he got infected.’

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Doctors assume that it could be contamination from insufficiently cooked meat, especially pork.

According to doctors, the danger of hepatitis E is not just the risk to the livers,  “Unfortunately, expert sources state that hepatitis E is very risky for pregnant women, especially in the third trimester.”