Risk factors and prevalence of hepatitis E in German immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Worldwide there is only limited information on the epidemiology of hepatitis E virus (HEV) and its association with other hepatotropic viruses. Endemic regions have been described in some Asian countries, whereas in Europe only sporadic cases have been reported. The prevalence of HEV and a series of other viral hepatitis infections was investigated in a group of 1,025 individuals immigrating into Germany from the former Soviet Union. Serum samples were tested for anti-HEV by a commercial enzyme immunoassay (EIA) based on recombinant proteins, and by peptide EIA and immunoblot. Risk factors and other demographic information were investigated using a questionnaire and a short interview. The overall prevalence of anti-hepatitis E antibodies (anti-HEV) was 2.05%. The following risk factors for HEV infection were identified: age of > 65 years, resident in the south-west part of the former Soviet Union, history of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, and employment in health care professions. HEV prevalence is not strikingly different from that observed in Western European countries. However, the different rates found for HEV vs. hepatitis A virus (HAV) are intriguing, since similar routes of transmission (fecal-oral) are well documented for both viruses. Exposure to HBV is surprisingly high, and the number of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive individuals was also higher than those reported from Western European areas.
Trautwein, C; Kiral, G; Tillmann, HL; Witteler, H; Michel, G; Manns, MP
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