Last update:


Arch Hellen Med, 30(4), July-August 2013, 436-448


Hepatitis E: An emerging infectious disease in Europe

C. Koutroumpi,1 V.A. Sevastianos,2 G. Vryoni,1 A. Tsakris1
1Laboratory of Microbiology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens,
2Fourth Department of Medicine, "Evangelismos" General Hospital of Athens, Athens, Greece

Hepatitis E is a human-zoonosis caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV) which is transmitted via the fecal-oral route. The disease was previously thought to be endemic only in the developing countries of Asia and Africa, but recent studies have shown that HEV is the causative agent of sporadic autochthonous hepatitis and limited epidemics in developed countries of Europe where a high prevalence of hepatitis E is recorded. The transmission routes are still not clearly understood, which makes efforts to estimate the risk of infection unreliable. Although the current epidemiological data on the longitudinal changes of the infection in Europe are inadequate, there has recently been an increase in reports on both hepatitis E prevalence and cases of acute infection. This is a systematic review on hepatitis E analyzing current data on its prevalence in the general population in Europe, including subanalysis of case reports of acute hepatitis E and exploration of longitudinal changes in the disease burden, in an attempt to derive conclusions on hepatitis E epidemiology in Europe. The current bibliography documents a consistently increasing trend, allowing preliminary impressions on the status of hepatitis E epidemiology in Europe. It appears that HEV is the causative agent of limited epidemics. In general, hepatitis E prevalence in Europe is low, but with an increasing trend, particularly in recent years, as reflected by the increasing numbers of reports of acute hepatitis E throughout Europe. There is therefore an urgent need for awareness of the problem on the part of clinicians and for HEV surveillance in the developed countries of Europe.

Key words: Epidemiology, Europe, Hepatitis E, HEV, Zoonoses.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine