In developed countries, hepatitis E is a porcine zoonosis caused by hepatitis E virus (HEV) genotype 3. In developing countries, hepatitis E is mainly caused by genotype 1, and causes increased mortality in patients with pre‐existing chronic liver disease (CLD).
To determine the role of HEV in patients with decompensated CLD.
Prospective HEV testing of 343 patients with decompensated CLD at three UK centres and Toulouse France, with follow‐up for 6 months or death. IgG seroprevalence was compared with 911 controls.
11/343 patients (3.2%) had acute hepatitis E infection, and three died. There were no differences in mortality (27% vs. 26%, OR 1.1, 95% CI 0.28–4.1), age (P = 0.9), bilirubin (P = 0.5), alanine aminotransferase (P = 0.06) albumin (P = 0.5) or international normalised ratio (P = 0.6) in patients with and without hepatitis E infection. Five cases were polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positive (genotype 3). Hepatitis E was more common in Toulouse (7.9%) compared to the UK cohort (1.2%, P = 0.003). HEV IgG seroprevalence was higher in Toulouse (OR 17, 95% CI 9.2–30) and Truro (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.4–4.6) than in Glasgow, but lower in cases, compared to controls (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.41–0.86).
Hepatitis E occurs in a minority of patients with decompensated chronic liver disease. The mortality is no different to the mortality in patients without hepatitis E infection. The diagnosis can only be established by a combination of serology and PCR, the yield and utility of which vary by geographical location.
- liver disease
- hepatitis E
- HEV testing