High prevalence of anti-hepatitis E virus antibodies in blood donors from South West France



Cases of autochthonous acute hepatitis E occur in most industrialized countries and are frequent in the South West of France. The prevalence of anti-hepatitis E virus (HEV) IgG antibodies in blood donors in this area was determined. A total of 529 samples from rural and urban blood donors were tested. The overall prevalence was 16.6%, 19.1% of rural donors and 14.2% of urban donors had anti-HEV antibodies (P = 0.13). The antibodies were widely distributed among all age groups and the sex ratio of the anti-HEV positive blood donors was 1.12 (P = 0.57). Hunting was the only pastime or profession associated with a high prevalence of anti-HEV antibodies (P = 0.038). The frequency of anti-HEV antibodies in blood donors could reflect active autochthonous transmission in this area of France. As the risk factors for HEV infection in industrialized countries are still unknown, further studies are needed to clarify the epidemiology of HEV infection in the Midi-Pyrénées region. J. Med. Virol. 80:289–293, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.