In the absence of reliable data on the burden of hepatitis E virus (HEV) in high endemic countries, we established a hospital-based acute jaundice surveillance program in six tertiary hospitals in Bangladesh to estimate the burden of HEV infection among hospitalized acute jaundice patients aged ≥14 years, identify seasonal and geographic patterns in the prevalence of hepatitis E, and examine factors associated with death. We collected blood specimens from enrolled acute jaundice patients, defined as new onset of either yellow eyes or skin during the past three months of hospital admission, and tested for immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies against HEV, HBV and HAV. The enrolled patients were followed up three months after hospital discharge to assess their survival sta-tus; pregnant women were followed up three months after their delivery to assess pregnancy outcomes. From December’2014 to September’2017, 1925 patients with acute jaundice were enrolled; 661 (34%) had acute hepatitis E, 48 (8%) had hepatitis A, and 293 (15%) had acute hepatitis B infection. Case fatality among hepatitis E patients was 5% (28/ 589). Most of the hepatitis E cases were males (74%; 486/661), but case fatality was higher among females—12% (8/68) among pregnant and 8% (7/91) among non-pregnant women. Half of the patients who died with acute hepatitis E had co-infection with HAV or HBV. Of the 62 HEV infected mothers who were alive until the delivery, 9 (15%) had miscarriage/still-birth, and of those children who were born alive, 19% (10/53) died, all within one week of birth. This study confirms that hepatitis E is the leading cause of acute jaundice, leads to hospitalizations in all regions in Bangladesh, occurs throughout the year, and is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. Effective control measures should be taken to reduce the risk of HEV infections including improvements in water quality, sanitation and hygiene practices and the introduction of HEV vaccine to high-risk groups.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases