Epidemiology of Hepatitis E Virus in European Countries

Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Oct 27;16(10):25711-43. doi: 10.3390/ijms161025711.


Over the last decade the seroprevalence of immunoglobulin (IgG) anti hepatitis E virus (HEV) has been increasing in European countries and shows significant variability among different geographical areas. In this review, we describe the serological data concerning the general population and risk groups in different European countries. Anti-HEV antibody prevalence ranged from 1.3% (blood donors in Italy) to 52% (blood donors in France). Various studies performed on risk groups in Denmark, Moldova and Sweden revealed that swine farmers have a high seroprevalence of HEV IgG (range 13%-51.1%), confirming that pigs represent an important risk factor in HEV infection in humans. Subtypes 3e,f are the main genotypes detected in the European population. Sporadic cases of autochthonous genotype 4 have been described in Spain, France, and Italy. Although most HEV infections are subclinical, in immune-suppressed and transplant patients they could provoke chronic infection. Fulminant hepatitis has rarely been observed and it was related to genotype 3. Interferon and ribavirin treatment was seen to represent the most promising therapy.

Keywords: autochthonous; genotype; hepatitis E virus; risk group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Europe
  • Hepatitis E / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis E / transmission
  • Hepatitis E / virology
  • Hepatitis E virus / immunology
  • Hepatitis E virus / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Serologic Tests / statistics & numerical data