Congratulations to Dr. Scott Kenney and Kush Yadav, PhD candidate, for having their book chapter entitled “Hepatitis E Virus Zoonotic Axis: HEV, the Master of Hide and Seek” published in the Springer Nature Book: Zoonoses: Infections Affecting Humans and Animals.
Viral hepatitis is primarily caused by five unrelated hepatotropic viruses, hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. While hepatitis A through C are commonly recognized as causing significant liver disease by many average individuals due to successful public health campaigns, hepatitis E is often completely unknown. Despite being unheard of in the general public, hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the leading cause of acute viral hepatitis worldwide with an estimated 20 million cases annually. Hepatotropic viruses are notoriously tricky, utilizing differing mechanisms to avoid detection and elimination by the host organism. While hepatitis B and C infections often produce few symptoms in the host while becoming chronic and spreading silently to new hosts, HEV utilizes a different strategy to continue circulating in its hosts. HEV’s long incubation period and ability to self-resolve in many infected individuals coupled with animal reservoirs that show little disease upon infection allow HEV to transmit to humans through the food chain. Endemic human strains have similar strategies, circulating at low levels within the populace waiting for conditions associated with socioeconomic turmoil when sanitary conditions decrease allowing for massive outbreaks through contaminated water. This virological game of hide and seek ensures the continued survivability and transmission of the pathogen. While most otherwise healthy individuals will be able to self-resolve HEV infections, people with underlying comorbidities, immunocompromised people, and pregnant women in their third trimester are at much greater risk of succumbing to hepatitis E. There is still much work to be done to unravel the nuances of HEV’s deadly hide-and-seek game so that humans may rid themselves of this malady.
Yadav, K.K., Kenney, S.P. (2022). Hepatitis E Virus Zoonotic Axis. In: Sing, A. (eds) Zoonoses: Infections Affecting Humans and Animals. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-85877-3_60-1
The full chapter can be accessed at https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-030-85877-3_60-1