Author(s): Chandra NS, Sharma A, Rai RR, Malhotra B
Abstract BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVES: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) causes acute viral hepatitis. Majority of the documented studies on hepatitis E have been focused on the incidence of this disease in northern and south central India. Limited data are available on HEV infection among acute sporadic hepatitis cases in north western India. The present study was undertaken to investigate the contribution of hepatitis E virus infection in sporadic hepatitis cases in Rajasthan and neighbouring States. METHODS: Seven hundred and thirty six patients suspected to have viral hepatitis were screened for the hepatotropic viral markers, hepatitis A, B, C and E by using commercial enzyme immunoassay kits with a high sensitivity and specificity. The acute nature of HEV infection was also confirmed by the detection of HEV RNA by nested RT-PCR. RESULTS: Hepatitis E was found to be the major cause of acute sporadic viral hepatitis (49.7\%) in this region of India. Mixed infections of HEV-HAV (1.2\%), HEV-HBV (6.1\%), and HEV-HCV (1.7\%) were also detected. No viral marker was detected in 32 per cent cases. INTERPRETATION & CONCLUSION: HEV was found as the major aetiological agent of acute sporadic viral hepatitis in Rajasthan (north western India). It is important to screen primarily for all the common enterically and parenterally transmitted hepatotropic viral markers in acute sporadic viral hepatitis. There is a need to do additional serological and molecular tests to identify the aetiological agent in the cases of acute hepatitis.