Seroprevalence of hepatitis E virus among blood donors on Corsica, France, 2017.


BackgroundHepatitis E virus (HEV) is an emerging zoonotic pathogen and an important cause of acute viral hepatitis in European countries. Corsica Island has been previously identified as a hyperendemic area for HEV.AimOur aim was to characterise the prevalence and titres of IgG antibodies to HEV among blood donors on Corsica and establish a model of the annual force of infection.MethodsBetween September 2017 and January 2018, 2,705 blood donations were tested for anti-HEV IgG using the Wantai HEV IgG enzyme immunoassay.ResultsThe overall seroprevalence was 56.1%. In multivariate analysis, seroprevalence was higher in men than in women (60.0% vs 52.2%; p < 0.01), increased with age and was significantly higher among donors born on Corsica (60.6% vs 53.2%; p < 0.01). No significant difference was observed between the five districts of the island. IgG anti-HEV titres were mostly low (70% of positive donors had titres < 3 IU/mL). In Corsican natives, increasing seroprevalence by age could be explained by models capturing a loss of immunity (annual probability of infection: 4.5%; duration of immunity: 55 years) or by age-specific probabilities of infection (3.8% for children, 1.3% for adults).ConclusionWe confirmed the high HEV seroprevalence on Corsica and identified three aspects that should be further explored: (i) the epidemiology in those younger than 18 years, (ii) common sources of contamination, in particular drinking water, that may explain the wide exposure of the population, and (iii) the actual protection afforded by the low IgG titres observed and the potential susceptibility to secondary HEV infection.

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