Incubation PeriodFollowing hepatitis E transmission, a person does not immediately become sick. Once the virus enters the body, it travels to the liver, where it begins to multiply.
After 14 to 60 days, symptoms can begin. This period between transmission of the virus and the start of symptoms is called the "hepatitis E incubation period."
Symptoms of Hepatitis ESymptoms of hepatitis E do not occur in everyone who has the disease. If they do occur, symptoms usually appear abruptly and go away within a couple of weeks. Symptoms may include:
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (also known as jaundice)
- Feeling very tired
- Stomach pain (or abdominal pain)
- Not feeling very hungry
- Dark urine
- Pale-colored stool
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- A low-grade fever.
In a number of people, these symptoms may be confused with stomach flu symptoms, especially in the early stages.
Pregnant women (especially those in their third trimester) appear to be exceptionally susceptible to severe disease.
(Click Hepatitis E Symptoms for information.)
Making a DiagnosisWhen diagnosing hepatitis E, a healthcare provider typically begins with a complete medical history, which includes questions about a person's travel history, history of drug and alcohol use, and family medical history. He or she will also check for signs of the disease and rule out other medical conditions. Tests that can help when diagnosing hepatitis E include liver function tests and a test that measures bilirubin. Other tests will look for antibodies the body has made against the hepatitis E virus.
(Click Hepatitis E Diagnosis for more information.)