(SCIENCE DAILY) – EPFL scientists have created the first world map of regions with the highest prevalence of the hepatitis E virus (HEV). They hope that their map – freely available online – will help governments and NGOs design more effective prevention campaigns based on reliable data, particularly when it comes to setting up refugee camps. The scientists’ research has just been published in Scientific Reports.
In Europe, China, Japan and North America, the main way people catch HEV is by eating undercooked pork, and the resulting disease is generally not fatal. However, in Mexico, India, Africa and most Asian countries, HEV is contracted by coming into contact with water from a river or well contaminated with fecal matter. According to the World Health Organization, there are around 20 million HEV infections worldwide every year and some 50,000 deaths from the disease. Hepatitis E epidemics are particularly deadly for pregnant women and generally occur after heavy rains and floods or after months-long droughts.