Author(s): Dreier J, Juhl D
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Abstract Hepatitis E virus (HEV) has been recognized since 2004 as a transfusion-transmissible infectious agent, and recent epidemiological data suggest that it may pose a safety threat to the blood supply. It has recently become obvious that hepatitis E is endemic in industrialized countries, and that more infections are autochthonous than travel-associated. Epidemiological and phylogenetic analysis suggests that HEV infection has to be considered as a zoonosis and that viral transmission from animals (pigs, wild animals) occurs through food or direct contact. The seroprevalence and incidence of HEV in the general population and blood donors in European countries indicate an underestimated risk for transfusion transmissions. Recently reported cases of transfusion transmission of HEV infection, and detection of viremic, asymptomatic blood donors in nucleic acid amplification technique screening programs give an indication of the importance of this virus. Diagnostic assays for detection of anti-HEV antibodies, HEV antigens and RNA are discussed. Recent studies support the idea that active immunization can prevent hepatitis E, highlighting the need for vaccination programs. Here we review current knowledge of HEV and its epidemiology, blood transmission and prevention of this disease with emphasis on blood supply.
This article was published in Transfus Med Hemother
and referenced in Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research