Hepatitis E, like Hepatitis A, is a virus that can be spread through food.  It does not get as much attention as Hepatitis A because it is thought to be rare.  But, how that is understood may be changing.

The prestigious Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is out with a study that concludes that exposure to the Hepatitis E Virus (HEV) is fairly common–but disease rarely follows the exposure.

The study found antibodies indicating exposure to HEV in 21 percent of the U.S. population between 1988 and 1994. HEV is a major cause of viral hepatitis in many developing countries, but how it is spread in developed countries is not fully known. The study is published in the July 1 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“Our study shows that animals could play an important role in the spread of HEV in the U.S. Having a dog or pet in the home or consuming meats like liver and other organs were significantly associated with increased odds of exposure to HEV,” said lead author Mark H. Kuniholm, PhD, a 2007 graduate of the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

More can be found in the School’s press release or by going to the JID site.