Autochthonous hepatitis E in Scotland.
Ramalingam S., Smith D., Wellington L., Vanek J., Simmonds P., MacGilchrist A., Bathgate A., Simpson K., Johannessen I.
BACKGROUND: Hepatitis E virus is well recognized cause of acute hepatitis. Traditionally hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections were generally associated with travel to Asia and Africa. Autochthonous hepatitis E is recognized as a major cause acute hepatitis in England and Wales. However, autochthonous hepatitis E has never been documented in Scotland. OBJECTIVES: We attempted to determine if autochthonous HEV occurred in Scotland. STUDY DESIGN: Samples from 377 individuals in the South-East of Scotland presenting with acute hepatitis were tested over six years. Acute hepatitis E was confirmed by detecting viraemia or documenting seroconversion and ORF-2 region sequenced. Structured interviews were carried out to identify risk factors for infection. RESULTS: Sixteen individuals (4.2%) had evidence of past HEV infection. Twelve (3.2%) had acute HEV infection, 10 of whom had viraemia (genotype 1=3; genotype 3=7). Of these seven with genotype 3 infection, three had not travelled outside Scotland within the incubation period, while four had travelled to Spain (n=3) or Turkey (n=1). All three individuals with genotype 1 infection had travelled to the Indian subcontinent. CONCLUSIONS: A significant proportion of HEV genotype 3 infections was autochthonous (43%). HEV screening should hence be an integral part of acute hepatitis screening in Scotland, irrespective of the travel history.