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Hepatitis E virus infection in Wuhan, Central China

Tang, Wei-Feng, Kong, De-Guang, Wang, Yuan-Hong, Liu, Man-Qing, Hu, Quan
Archives of virology 2019 v.164 no.1 pp. 27-32
Hepatitis E virus, blood serum, cross-sectional studies, feces, genotype, hepatitis E, immunoglobulin G, immunoglobulin M, males, patients, phylogeny, rural areas, seroprevalence, urban areas, viruses, China
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an emergent virus of global importance. Previous studies of HEV infection in China mainly focused on the rural areas. This work aims to study the epidemiology of HEV in a large urban environment. With a registered population of 10 million, the dense city of Wuhan presents itself as a prime opportunity to better understand this emergent virus. The epidemiological data from 2011 to 2016 were analyzed. A cross-sectional study on the seroprevalence of anti-HEV IgG was conducted among the general population (age range 0-59) in 2013. Serum and fecal samples of hepatitis E patients were collected over a period of two years: serum samples were tested for anti-HEV IgM and IgG, and fecal samples were tested for HEV-RNA. The overall seroprevalence of anti-HEV IgG was 35% in Wuhan. Among 415 hepatitis E patients, 286 cases (68.9%) were positive for HEV-IgM, 108 cases (26%) were positive for HEV-IgG alone, and 21 cases (5.1%) were negative for both IgM and IgG. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the detected genotype of HEV was genotype 4. Reported cases occurred sporadically throughout the year with the peak value appearing in the first quarter and a large proportion of male cases (2.1:1). The incidence increased with age for persons under 60 years, reaching its peak level after 60 years of age. Wuhan is endemic for HEV with its currently detected genotype being genotype 4. It is estimated that 68.9% hepatitis E cases were due to primary infection between 2012 and 2013 in Wuhan.