Acute Hepatitis E Virus Infection Presenting as a Prolonged Cholestatic Jaundice

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Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an enteric virus that usually causes a self-resolving hepatitis; although, it may be fatal, especially in pregnant women. Although HEV is endemic in Israel, there have been no recent local outbreaks. We report the case of a 70-year-old man who presented with painless jaundice. Ultrasound and abdominal computed tomography scan revealed gallstones, with no evidence of cholecystitis and no dilatation of the intra-or extrahepatic bile ducts. An open cholecystectomy was performed with intraoperative cholangiography. There was no evidence of choledocholithiasis. A subsequent endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography was normal. His bilirubin level subsequently increased to a maximum of 25 mg/dL, and his gamma-glutamyl-transferase level reached 1,400 U/L. There was no evidence of any autoimmune or metabolic disease, and routine viral serology was normal except for immunoglobulin G to hepatitis A virus. A liver biopsy revealed an acute cholestatic picture. The jaundice resolved slowly after a period of 6 months. Hepatitis E virus RNA was isolated from the acute-phase serum and was not detectable in the convalescent serum. This case is a unique example of chronic cholestatic jaundice that we think is caused by acute HEV infection.

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