BACKGROUND: In industrialized countries, sporadic cases of hepatitis E have been reported in individuals who have never been in an endemic area. Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection commonly occurs via the fecal-oral route but a potential risk of transfusion transmission route has been suggested.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: A 67-year-old Japanese male patient who had never been abroad received a transfusion of blood from 23 voluntary donors and developed acute hepatitis with unknown etiology after transfusion. His blood samples were tested for viral markers of hepatitis viruses.
RESULTS: HAV, HBV, HCV, CMV, and EBV were ruled out as causative agents in this case. The patient's blood sample in the acute phase contained HEV RNA as well as IgM and IgG anti-HEV. HEV RNA was also detected in one of the FFP units transfused. The donor had no history of traveling abroad and had a normal ALT level at the time of donation. The PCR products from the patient and the donor showed complete identity for two distinct regions of HEV within open reading frame 1.
CONCLUSION: The patient was infected with HEV via transfused blood from a volunteer donor. A potential risk of posttransfusion hepatitis E should be considered even in nonendemic countries.