Over 20 million individuals infected with hepatitis E in Asia and Africa

New research funded by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 20.1 million individuals were infected with hepatitis E virus (HEV) genotypes 1 and 2 across 9 world regions in 2005. According to findings available in the April issue of Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, there were 3.4 million symptomatic cases, 70,000 deaths, and 3,000 stillbirths from HEV that year in countries throughout Asia and Africa.

Unlike B and C strains that lead to chronic disease states, HEV causes acute illness. Previous studies show HEV genotypes 1 and 2 specifically infect humans, and are associated with large outbreaks in developing countries where sanitation conditions are poor. There is evidence that HEV increases among pregnant women. While a safe and effective HEV vaccine has been developed, it has not been widely implemented.

"Our study represents the first attempt to estimate the annual global impact of ," said lead author Dr. David Rein of the social science research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. Estimates were created by modeling the disease burden of HEV genotypes 1 and 2 in the 9 regions, representing 71% of the world's population. Based on published evidence the team—a collaboration between researchers from NORC, WHO and RTI International—also estimated annual incidence of infection to determine symptomatic, asymptomatic, and mortality cases.

The team determined that the prevalence pattern of HEV was consistent across the regions, with the largest incident increase occurring in those between the ages of 5 and 20 years. The average age of infection was 17 years with the lowest age of infection in North Africa (8 years) and highest in East Asia (21 years).

Of the more than 20 million people infected with HEV, 61% of the cases occurred in East and South Asia, two regions which also accounted for 65% of deaths from HEV. Researchers also noted that North Africa accounted for 14% of all global HEV infections, but only 8.3% of symptomatic cases and 8% of deaths, which the authors attribute to the younger average age of infection in that region.

The authors caution there are limitations to the study which only estimated incidence of HEV genotypes 1 and 2, leaving out 3 that prevalently occurs in Europe and the U.S., and genotype 4. "Future HEV estimates should include genotypes 3 and 4 to provide a complete picture of the global burden of HEV," concludes Dr. Rein.

More information: "The Global Burden of Hepatitis E Virus Genotypes 1 and 2 in 2005." David B. Rein, Gretchen Stevens, Jordan Theaker, John S. Wittenborn and Steven T. Wiersma. Hepatology; Published Online: November 26, 2011 (DOI: 10.1002/hep.25505); Print Issue Date: April 2012.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Blood vessels participate in the eradication of tumors

Aug 17, 2011

Breast cancer: for the first time, very specific blood vessels have been discovered in tumors. These vessels facilitate the access of certain white blood cells, known as “killer lymphocytes”, into ...

Hyundai to Start Retail Sales of First Hybrid in July 2009

Jul 09, 2008

Hyundai Motor Company plans to start retail sales of its first LPG–electric hybrid vehicle in July 2009. To be sold initially in the Korean domestic market under the Avante badge, the Elantra LPI Hybrid Electric Vehicle ...

Juvenile diarrhea virus analyzed

Jul 18, 2011

Rice University scientists have defined the structure -- down to the atomic level -- of a virus that causes juvenile diarrhea. The research may help direct efforts to develop medications that block the virus ...

Recommended for you

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

8 hours ago

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

Dec 20, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.