Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is one of the most frequent causes of acute viral hepatitis of enteric transmission worldwide. In South America the overall epidemiology has been little studied, and the burden of the disease remains largely unknown. A research of all scientific articles about HEV circulation in South America until November 2017 was carried out. Human seroprevalences of HEV varied according to the studied population: blood donors presented prevalence rates ranging from 1.8% to 9.8%, while reports from HIV‐infected individuals, transplant recipients and patients on hemodialysis showed higher prevalence rates. Only 2 cases of chronic hepatitis in solid‐organ transplant patients from Argentina and Brazil have been described. Detection of HEV in the swine population is widely prevalent in the region. Anti‐HEV antibodies have also been recently documented in wild boars from Uruguay. Although scarce, studies focused on environmental and food HEV detection have shown viral presence in these kind of samples, highlighting possible transmission sources of HEV in the continent. HEV genotype 3 was the most frequently detected in the region, with HEV genotype 1 detected only in Venezuela and Uruguay. HEV is widely distributed throughout South America, producing sporadic cases of acute hepatitis, but as a possible agent of chronic hepatitis. Finding the virus in humans, animals, environmental samples and food, show that it can be transmitted through many sources, alerting local governments and health systems to improve diagnosis and for the implementation of preventive measures.
Infection with hepatitis E virus (HEV) leads to acute hepatitis infection in immunocompetent hosts. HEV genotype 3 can present with high frequency and lead to chronic infection in individuals with a compromised immune system. The risk factors related to increased seroprevalence or chronicity in this population are not entirely understood. Moreover, most studies addressing risk factors for HEV in non-endemic areas come from developed areas such as North America and Europe. In this study we evaluated seroprevalence, chronicity and risk factors for HEV in 120 transplant recipients and 88 patients on dialysis in Argentina. We found a significantly higher seroprevalence of HEV IgG in those undergoing dialysis compared with healthy controls (10.2% and 4.3% respectively, p = 0.03). No difference in HEV seroprevalence was observed between healthy controls and transplant recipients (5.8%). We found no association between previously identified risk factors for HEV, such as pork consumption or use of tacrolimus, and HEV seroprevalence. In univariate and multivariate analyses, consumption of fish was associated with higher seroprevalence of HEV (OR = 9.33; 95% CI: 2.07-42.2; p = 0.04). None of the samples showed HEV RNA amplification, indicating that chronicity does not seem to be an issue in these cohorts. Our results show increased seroprevalence of HEV in individuals undergoing dialysis but not in transplant recipients. We also found that fish consumption can be a potential risk factor for acquiring HEV.
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Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a single-stranded RNA virus that can cause hepatitis in an epidemic fashion. HEV usually causes asymptomatic or limited acute infections in immunocompetent individuals, whereas in immunosuppressed individuals such as transplant recipients, HEV can cause chronic infections. The risks and outcomes of HEV co-infection in patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are poorly characterized. We used a third generation immunoassay to measure serum IgG antibodies specific for HEV in 204 HIV-infected individuals from Argentina and a control group of 433 HIV-negative individuals. We found 15 of 204 (7.3%, 95%CI 3.74–10.96%) individuals in the HIV-positive group to have positive HEV IgG levels suggestive of previous infection, compared to 19 of 433 (4.4%, 95% CI 2.5–6.3%) individuals in the HIV-negative control group (p = 0.12). Among HIV-positive individuals, those with HEV seropositivity had lower CD4 counts compared to those that were HEV seronegative (average CD4 count of 234 vs 422 mm3, p = 0.01), indicating that patients with lower CD4 counts were more likely to be HEV IgG positive. Moreover, HEV seropositivity in patients with CD4 counts <200 mm3 was 16%, compared to 4.5% in those with CD4 counts >200 mm3 (p = 0.012). We found a positive PCR result for HEV in one individual. Our study found that increased seroprevalence of HEV IgG correlated with lower CD4 counts in HIV-infected patients in Argentina.
Water resources contaminated with wastewater are an important source for the dissemination of enteric viruses with an impact on the health of the population. The aim of the study was to assess the viral contamination of freshwater from a dam in Argentina by using infectious enterovirus detection, viral RNA amplification, and a genetic characterization of five enteric viruses associated with diarrhea and hepatitis. Enterovirus infectivity (iEV) was evaluated by cell culture and direct immunofluorescence. The detection of the viral genome of rotavirus (RV), human astrovirus (HAstV), norovirus (NoV), hepatitis A virus (HAV), and hepatitis E virus (HEV) was performed by reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR). A total of 48 water samples from 4 monitoring points on the body of the dam from January to December 2012 and 66 water samples from 3 tourist beaches on the edge of the dam from October 2013 to October 2015 were collected monthly. During the first period, the overall viral frequency detection was 52.1% for group A RV, 50% for HAstV, 60.4% for NoV, 22.9% for HAV, 2.1% for HEV, and 64.6% for iEV. The overall frequency detection for the second sampling was 18.2% for RV and HAstV, 31.8% for NoV, 7.57% for HEV, and 66.7% for iEV. There was no detection of HAV during this period. The genotypes and genogroups detected through the study correlated with the most common genomic variants associated with human gastrointestinal and hepatitis illnesses. The results obtained could alert the health systems and environmental sanitation to make decisions for viral control and prevention in our environment. The study shows the impact of anthropic contamination of one of the most important tourist water resources in Argentina. This course of recreational water would be a favorable scenario for infection, as well as a reservoir for the enteric viruses, creating a risk for the population exposed to these waters. The results obtained could alert the health systems and environmental sanitation to make decisions for the control and prevention of viral diseases in this environment.
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