• viral hepatitis;
  • hepatitis E;
  • liver disease


A solid phase enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) that detects IgM and IgG to hepatitis E virus (HEV) was used to study seroepidemiology in 40 healthy subjects and 227 consecutive patients with liver diseases in an endemic area. Fifty-two of the liver diseases patients (22.9 percent) had acute hepatitis E. In contrast, none of the 40 healthy subjects were positive for IgM anti-HEV, validating the ELISA assay. Twenty-three of 25 (92%) patients with epidemic non-A, non-B hepatitis were confirmed as having acute hepatitis E. Only 1 of the 10 patients with sporadic, fulminant hepatic failuire of non-A, non-B, non-C etiology was positive for IgM anti-HEV. Five (31.2%) of the 16 patients with acute hepatitis in HBsAg carriers were positive for IgM anti-HEV. One patient with acute hepatitis B wascoinfected with acute hepatitis E. Acute hepatitis was a disease of the adult population, with peak attack rates in the second and third decades of life. This disease was seen in only 4 (16%) of the 25 patients with acute viral hepatitis occurring below 14 years of age. Cholestasis was predominant in 25% of patients, enzyme elevation was monophasic, and all patients had clinical and biochemical recovery from the disease. The data suggest that the majority of patients with acute sporadic non-A, non-B, non-C hepatitis in India have hepatitis E. However, fulminant hepatic failure to sporadic nature is rarely from hepatitis E. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.