Epidemiology of mammalian hepatitis E virus infection.Intervirology. 2013; 56(2):67-83.I
Mammalian hepatitis E virus (HEV), the etiological agent of hepatitis E in humans, is a recently discovered infectious agent. It was identified for the first time in 1983 using electron microscopy on a faecal specimen of a person infected with non-A, non-B enterically-transmitted hepatitis. Based on retrospective and prospective studies, HEV was long described as one of the leading causes of acute viral hepatitis in tropical and subtropical countries, whereas in developed countries hepatitis E was considered an imported disease from HEV hyperendemic countries. Data from studies conducted during the past decade have greatly shifted our knowledge on the epidemiology and clinical spectrum of HEV. Recently, it has been shown that contrary to previous beliefs, hepatitis E is also an endemic disease in several developed countries, particularly in Japan and in Europe, as evidenced by reports of high anti-HEV immunoglobulin G prevalence in healthy individuals and an increasing number of non-travel-related acute hepatitis E cases. Moreover, a porcine reservoir and growing evidence of zoonotic transmission have been reported in these countries. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the epidemiology and prevention of transmission of mammalian HEV.