Hepatitis E virus epidemiology in industrialized countries

Emerg Infect Dis. 2003 Apr;9(4):448-54. doi: 10.3201/eid0904.020351.


To determine the prevalence of Hepatitis E virus (HEV) in industrialized nations, we analyzed the excretion of HEV strains by the populations of Spain, France, Greece, Sweden, and the United States. Twenty of 46 (43.5%) urban sewage samples collected in Barcelona from 1994 to 2002 tested positive for HEV. We identified 15 HEV strains, which were similar to two HEV isolates previously described in Barcelona in clinical samples and to strains from diverse geographic HEV-nonendemic areas. We also identified two HEV strains in sewage samples from Washington, D.C., and Nancy, France; these samples were also positive for Hepatitis A virus. In addition, we studied the role of pigs as a reservoir for HEV and identified one new swine HEV strain. Our results suggest that HEV may be more prevalent than previously considered in industrialized countries and that variants of the virus circulate simultaneously in one region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Base Sequence
  • Developed Countries
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Hepatitis E virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis E virus / isolation & purification*
  • Hepatitis E* / blood
  • Hepatitis E* / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis E* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Sewage / virology*
  • Swine


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Sewage