The first assessment of hepatitis E virus seroprevalence in northern Portugal.

G Macedo, T Pinto, J A Sarmento, A M Vale, T Ribeiro


Hepatitis E is an enterically transmitted acute viral hepatitis, etiologically associated with a recently characterized virus, the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Outbreaks mainly occur in developing countries and as sporadic cases in endemic regions. The authors present the first serological assessment in northern Portugal to assess the presence of anti HEV IgG, using the Elisa test, the EIA and HEV Abbott, in samples from 50 blood donors and 103 chronic liver disease patients. In 2 blood donors (4%) and in 7 (6.8%) liver patients, the HEV antibody was detected with optic densities/cut off always below 2.5. Only one patient had a sojourn in an endemic region; the presence of anti-HEV was not significantly associated with other hepatotropic viruses. With this test the authors conclude that 4% of our blood donors are seropositive for anti-HEV antibody and that this percentage is not significantly higher in chronic liver disease patients (6.8%). They also think that a new generation of immunological assays, designed for serological diagnosis of HEV infection, will provide a further understanding of hepatitis E epidemiology.

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