Chin-Cheng Lee a-c , Yung-Luen Shih a , Chao-Sheng Laio d , Su-Mei Lin a , Mei-Mei Huang a , Chiung-Ju Chen a , Chao-Ping Chen a , Chun-Lien Chang a , Li-Ru Chen e , Shu-Yuan Tschen f , Chwan-Heng Wang g
22 February 2005
Background/Aims: A higher prevalence of anti-hepatitis E virus (HEV) in non-endemic viral hepatitis such as in Germany has been reported in our previous study. The aim of this study was to assess the seroepidemiology of HEV among haemodialysis (HD) patients in Shin-Kong Hospital, Taiwan, and to evaluate whether there was an increased risk of infection and exposure to HEV even in an area of endemic viral hepatitis. Methods: Serum samples obtained from 400 Taiwanese patients on chronic HD (group 1), 400 sex- and age-matched healthy subjects (group 2) and hospital patients (group 3) were tested for the IgG anti-HEV. Results: The prevalence of anti-HEV among the HD patients and the healthy controls were 31 and 8.9%, respectively. The difference (22%) was statistically significant (p < 0.01). In comparison, the anti-HEV in hospital patients was 16%. Conclusion: The study indicated a significantly higher risk of HEV infection among patients on chronic HD in endemic regions of viral hepatitis such as Taiwan. Mostly because of anaemia, HD patients usually received packed transfusion (red blood cells) if their haemoglobin was low. It is possible that HEV infection may be transmitted through blood transfusions in an endemic area. In such areas, appropriate strategies should be adopted to prevent the risk of HEV among HD patients.