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Seroprevalence of hepatitis E virus in dromedary camels, Bedouins, Muslim Arabs and Jews in Israel, 2009–2017

  • R. Bassal (a1), M. Wax (a2), R. Shirazi (a2), T. Shohat (a1) (a3), D. Cohen (a3), D. David (a4), S. Abu-Mouch (a5), Y. Abu-Ghanem (a6), E. Mendelson (a2) (a3), Z. Ben-Ari (a3) (a7) and O. Mor (a2) (a3)...

Abstract

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an emerging cause of viral hepatitis worldwide. Recently, HEV-7 has been shown to infect camels and humans. We studied HEV seroprevalence in dromedary camels and among Bedouins, Arabs (Muslims, none-Bedouins) and Jews and assessed factors associated with anti-HEV seropositivity. Serum samples from dromedary camels (n = 86) were used to determine camel anti-HEV IgG and HEV RNA positivity. Human samples collected between 2009 and 2016 from >20 years old Bedouins (n = 305), non-Bedouin Arabs (n = 320) and Jews (n = 195), were randomly selected using an age-stratified sampling design. Human HEV IgG levels were determined using Wantai IgG ELISA assay. Of the samples obtained from camels, 68.6% were anti-HEV positive. Among the human populations, Bedouins and non-Bedouin Arabs had a significantly higher prevalence of HEV antibodies (21.6% and 15.0%, respectively) compared with the Jewish population (3.1%). Seropositivity increased significantly with age in all human populations, reaching 47.6% and 34.8% among ⩾40 years old, in Bedouins and non-Bedouin Arabs, respectively. The high seropositivity in camels and in ⩾40 years old Bedouins and non-Bedouin Arabs suggests that HEV is endemic in Israel. The low HEV seroprevalence in Jews could be attributed to higher socio-economic status.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: R. Bassal, E-mail: ravit.bassal@moh.health.gov.il

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