Blood Donor Screening for Hepatitis E Virus in the European Union

Transfus Med Hemother. 2019 Apr;46(2):95-103. doi: 10.1159/000499121. Epub 2019 Mar 14.


This review article summarises hepatitis E virus (HEV) blood donation screening strategies in effect in the European Union (EU). Since 2012, eight EU countries have implemented HEV screening. Local rates of seroprevalence, RNA incidence, and molecular epidemiology are variable and not usually directly comparable. We report a range of HEV-RNA reactivity rates from 1 in 744 donations (France) to 1 in 8,636 donations (Wales) with an overall EU rate of 1 in 3,109 donations (3.2 million donations screened). HEV genotypes 3c, 3e, and 3f are the most frequently reported subtypes. In these 8 countries, both universal (n = 5) and selective (n = 3) screening policies have been introduced utilising either individual donation (ID; n = 1) or mini-pool (MP; n = 7; MP-6, -16, -24, and -96) testing. We also describe the Irish experience of HEV screening utilising an ID-NAT-based donor screening algorithm which intercepts donations even from those with low-level viraemia; 21 of 56 donors (37.5%) had a viral load (VL) < 100 IU/mL. We performed a MP-24 experiment which may prove useful to colleagues in relation to donor screening and associated blood component transmissibility. Irish results indicate that 59% of donors with a HEV-VL < 450 IU/mL may have screened negative in a MP-24.

Keywords: European Union; Hepatitis E virus; Nucleic acid testing; Viral load.

Publication types

  • Review