Author(s): Echevarra JM, Fogeda M, Avelln A
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Acute hepatitis due to hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is both indigenous and imported to Europe. Few studies provide information about the role of HEV as an agent for acute hepatitis in Spain. OBJECTIVES: To investigate the frequency of the HEV infection among patients displaying acute hepatitis of unexplained origin in Spain, comparing the performance of two different diagnostic approaches. STUDY DESIGN: Specific IgM antibody and HEV RNA tests were used to study samples from 277 patients with acute hepatitis of unknown aetiology received during a six-year period. Samples were sent by 52 hospitals from almost all regions of Spain. RESULTS: Evidence of acute infection by HEV was obtained for 30 patients in total (10.8\%), and 16 cases were unrelated to recent international travel. On samples from 158 patients tested for both anti-HEV IgM and HEV RNA at admission, the yield of IgM antibody testing (11.4\%) was higher than the yield of HEV RNA testing (9.5\%). CONCLUSIONS: HEV could be responsible in Spain of about 11\% of cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin overall, and of about 8\% of cases unrelated to international travel or immigration. India and neighbour countries represent the highest risk for import of epidemic HEV strains into Spain. Both antibody assays and molecular tests are required to optimise the final yield of laboratory diagnosis. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in J Clin Virol
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals