Hepatitis E virus excretion can be prolonged in patients with hematological malignancies.J Clin Virol. 2010 Oct; 49(2):141-4.JC
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is transmitted via the fecal-oral route and locally acquired sporadic hepatitis E can occur in Western countries. Chronic hepatitis E virus infections have been recently described in solid organ transplant recipients. There is little data on the evolution of hepatitis E in patients immunocompromised for other reasons.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical course of hepatitis E in patients immunocompromised because of hematological malignancies.
Starting on November 2003, all patients in the Toulouse University Hospital Hematology Department with unexplained elevated transaminases were tested for hepatitis E using viral RNA detection in serum or stools and serology.
Acute hepatitis E was diagnosed in six middle-aged hematology patients. All cases were autochthonous. HEV strains were genotype 3. All patients had a significant increase of transaminases (6-95 upper limit normal) and only two had HEV IgG. Five patients were asymptomatic and one had jaundice. Transmission of HEV occurred between two patients who had overlapping stays in the hematology ward. All five evaluable patients ultimately cleared their HEV but viremia was prolonged over 6 months in three patients and specific treatment had to be postponed in two patients.
Screening for HEV should be carried out routinely in hematology patients with elevated transaminases, and patient-to-patient transmission is a concern. Further studies are required to determine whether management of malignancy, particularly stem-cell transplantation should be adapted to HEV status.