Hepatitis E virus infection in Wuhan, Central 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.
The authors would like to thank Dr. Tongqing Zhou (NIH) for helpfully reviewing the manuscript.
This study was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province (2011CDC124, 2012FFB05501); Wuhan Municipal Public Health Bureau (WG12D01); and Wuhan Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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