Open Access Highly Accessed Case Report

Fatal hepatitis E viral infection in pregnant women in Ghana: a case series

Joseph Humphrey Kofi Bonney1*, Robert A Kwame-Aryee2, Samuel Obed2, Ama Asantewa Tamatey2, Jacob Samson Barnor1, Naa Baake Armah2, Samuel Antwi Oppong2 and Mubarak Osei-Kwesi1

Author Affiliations

1 Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, School of health Sciences, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, P.O. Box KB 82, Accra, Ghana

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:478  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-478

Published: 3 September 2012



Viral infections during pregnancy can pose serious threats to mother and fetus from the time of conception to the time of delivery. These lead to congenital defects, spontaneous abortion and even death. The definitive diagnosis and management of pregnancy-related viral infections may be challenging especially in less resourced countries.

Case presentation

We present clinical and laboratory responses to the diagnosis and management of three cases of fulminant hepatitis secondary to Hepatitis E viral infection in pregnancy.

Case 1 was a 31-year-old Ghanaian woman who presented with a week’s history of passing dark urine as well as yellowish discoloration of the eyes. She subsequently developed fulminant hepatitis secondary to Hepatitis E viral infection, spontaneously aborted at 24 weeks of gestation and later died.

Case 2 was also a 31-year-old Ghanaian woman who was admitted with a four-day history of jaundice. She had low grade fever, but no history of abdominal pain, haematuria, pale stool or pruritus. She next developed fulminant hepatitis secondary to Hepatitis E viral infection. However, she did not miscarry but died at 28 weeks of gestation.

Case 3 was a 17-year-old Ghanaian woman who was referred to the tertiary health facility on account of jaundice and anaemia. She had delivered a live male infant at maturity of 32 weeks but noticed she was jaundiced and had a presentation of active disease 3 days prior to delivery. The baby was icteric at birth and on evaluation, had elevated bilirubin (mixed type) with normal liver enzymes. Hepatitis E virus infection was confirmed in both mother and baby. However, the jaundice and the hepatomegaly resolved in mother and baby after 5 and 12 days respectively.


To the best of our knowledge, these are the first documented cases of fatal fulminant hepatic failures resulting from HEV infection in Ghana.

Fulminant hepatitis; Fulminant hepatic failure; Hepatitis E virus