Prevalence of antibodies against hepatitis A and E viruses among rural populations of the Chaco region, south-eastern Bolivia


correspondence Dr Alessandro Bartoloni, Clinica di Malattie Infettive, Università di Firenze, Via di Torregalli 3, 50143 Firenze, Italia. E-mail:


Summary We conducted a cross-sectional study to determine the seroprevalence of antibodies against hepatitis A and hepatitis E viruses (HAV and HEV) in the population of two rural areas, Camiri and Villa Montes, of the Chaco region, south-eastern Bolivia. HAV antibodies were detected in 461 (94.1%) of 490 serum samples tested, not differing significantly between sexes and study areas. The HAV seropositivity rate (64.7%) was high even in the youngest age group (1–5 years). The prevalence of HEV was 7.3%, with no significant differences between sexes. The prevalence of HEV antibodies in the population of the Camiri area (10.4%) was significantly higher than in the Villa Montes area (4.4.%), possibly due to the better quality of drinking water in the Villa Montes area. In the population ≤ 30 years of age, the HEV seropositivity rate (4.4%) was significantly lower than in the ≥ 31 year-old group. This is consistent with findings in other countries. This is the first report of the prevalence of HEV infection in Bolivia.