Prevalence of hepatitis E virus (HEV) antibodies in Serbian blood donors
Introduction: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is rarely reported in industrialized countries, but recent studies have revealed quite variable seroprevalence rates among European populations, including blood donors. In Serbia, very limited data about HEV seroprevalence are available. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of anti-HEV IgG antibodies and HEV RNA in the sera of volunteer blood donors in Serbia.
Methodology: Serum samples from 200 volunteer blood donors were tested for the presence of anti-HEV IgG by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using ORF-2 HEV genotype 3 recombinant proteins as antigen, and for the presence of HEV RNA by nested reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
Results: In total, 15% of the volunteer blood donors were seropositive. The prevalence increased with age; 21.5%, 14.2%, and 5.4% HEV seroprevalence rates were found in individuals older than 51 years, between 31 and 50 years, and in those younger than 30 years of age, respectively. However, no HEV RNA was detected in any of the individuals analyzed.
Conclusions: The prevalence of anti-HEV IgG among blood donors as representatives of the general population is quite high in Serbia compared to data from many European countries. One of the reasons for this could be the high prevalence of HEV among Serbian pigs and the traditional consumption of piglet meat in the country. The relatively high HEV seroprevalence found among Serbian blood donors indicates the need for further investigation.
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