Seroprevalence of Hepatitis E Virus in Forestry Workers from Trentino-Alto Adige Region (Northern Italy)

Pathogens. 2020 Jul 14;9(7):568. doi: 10.3390/pathogens9070568.


People with some occupational or recreational activities, such as hunters and veterinarians, may have increased risk to be infected by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). The aim of the present study was to establish whether forestry workers could be considered at a higher risk of HEV infection than a control group. One hundred and fifty sera from forestry workers and a control group of 85 sera were analysed by anti-HEV IgG antibodies detection using a commercial ELISA kit. The anti-HEV IgG seroprevalence was 14% for forestry workers and 9.4% for the control group. Comparing the risk of HEV infection in the two groups, there was no difference in the odds ratio. However, the seroprevalence in older subjects was higher in the forestry workers than in the control group. Two sera from forestry workers were also positive for anti-HEV IgM, and, in one of them, HEV-RNA was detected. Our findings showed an increase of seroprevalence with age, which is likely to reflect cumulative exposure to HEV over time. The occupation of forestry workers did not seem to be associated with a higher risk of HEV infection. The study provided new insights into the risk of acquiring HEV in occupational exposure workers with open-air activities.

Keywords: anti-HEV IgG seroprevalence; forestry workers; hepatitis E virus; occupational risk.