Risk Factors Associated with Blood Exposure for Sporadic Hepatitis E in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2017 Nov;97(5):1437-1444. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.17-0261. Epub 2017 Aug 18.


Fecal contamination of drinking water is associated with large hepatitis E virus (HEV) outbreaks of genotypes 1 and 2 in endemic areas. Sporadic transmission of HEV genotypes 3 and 4 in high-income countries has been associated with exposure to blood and animal contact. The objective of the study was to identify the risk factors for hepatitis E and the genotype(s) causing sporadic hepatitis E in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We selected, from a diagnostic center in Dhaka between November 2008 and November 2009, cases presenting with jaundice and anti-HEV IgM antibodies and age-matched controls were defined as those with no history of jaundice and normal blood test results. Serum samples were tested for HEV RNA using real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction followed by a sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. A total of 109 cases and 109 controls were enrolled. The cases were more likely to be male (adjusted matched odds ratios [mOR] 2.2, 95% CI: 1.2-3.9; P = 0.01), or have reported contact with another person's blood or blood product, or contact with blood-contaminated sharp instruments (adjusted mOR 2.1, 95% CI: 1.1-4.1; P = 0.03) than controls. There were no significant differences between the cases and the controls in terms of reported high-risk sexual intercourse, consumption of undercooked meat, or contact or drinking fecally-contaminated water. The sera from three cases carried HEV RNA, all belonging to genotype 1. Findings from this study suggest that contact with human blood and sharing sharp instruments may transmit sporadic hepatitis E in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Efforts to prevent the transmission of blood-borne pathogens may also prevent sporadic HEV transmission in this endemic setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Hepatitis Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis E / blood*
  • Hepatitis E / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis E / transmission*
  • Hepatitis E virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis E virus / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Jaundice / diagnosis
  • Jaundice / epidemiology*
  • Jaundice / virology
  • Male
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Viral / blood*
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Hepatitis Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • RNA, Viral