The epidemiology of hepatitis E virus infections in developed countries and among immunocompromised patients

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Abstract

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an important cause of acute hepatitis in humans worldwide, both as epidemic and sporadic disease. Since the virus was identified in 1983, epidemics have occurred regularly in many countries across South and Southeast Asia when seasonal floods have contaminated drinking water supplies and in Africa during humanitarian crises among refugee populations without access to clean water. In addition, sporadic cases and small clusters of HEV infections have been recognized throughout the world in developed countries over the past couple of decades. This review will focus on emerging evidence of HEV infection as an under-recognized pathogen in Europe, the USA and other industrialized countries. We will discuss some of the issues associated with the recognition, diagnosis and treatment of these sporadic cases. We will also summarize the recent literature on autochthonous HEV infection among populations in developed countries in industrialized Europe, the USA, Japan and other industrialized Asian countries. We will review recent reports of acute and chronic HEV infections among transplant recipients and other immunocompromised individuals including HIV/AIDS patients.

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