Transfusion transmission of hepatitis E virus: an emerging issue

Kenrad E. Nelson


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections are quite common in developed countries in Europe, North America and China. HEV infected adults commonly are asymptomatic when they are viremic and usually would qualify to donate blood. More than 20 HEV viremic donors have been detected in Japan and have transmitted HEV to patients. Therefore blood donor screening in Northern Japan since 2007 has detected over 230 HEV viremic donors. A study in Southeastern UK detected 79 HEV viremic donors; 18 of 43 recipients of these infected blood products were infected. Currently donor blood in the UK is screened for HEV RNA in minipools. Clinically silent HEV is quite common among adults in China (about 1:1,500–2,500 donors are HEV RNA positive?). A policy to prevent transfusion-transmitted HEV is needed .