A study published in the Lancet medical journal to coincide with World Hepatitis Day on July 28 found that that donor blood is responsible for the spread of the hepatitis E virus (HEV).
The researchers from Public Health England evaluated 225,000 blood donations in the south-east of England. They reported that one in almost 3,000 blood donors carried HEV, estimating that about 80,000 to 100,000 human HEV infections may have occurred in England during the year of the study.
Hepatitis, a bloodborne liver disease dubbed the world’s 8th biggest killer, is caused by viruses referred to as A, B, C, D and E. Symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, fever and vomiting. Hepatitis E is rare in the United States, though the CDC reports that some studies have found a high prevalence of antibodies to HEV in the population at large. People in the U.S. usually contract hepatitis E when they travel to a developing country where this disease is widespread.
Currently, only the B and C types of hepatitis are screened for. The basis for not screening hepatitis E infections is because they are generally thought to be mild and short-term in nature unlike the other forms of hepatitis which can be serious and even fatal.
The new study called for HEV screening in Europe.
One of the researchers said, “Although rarely causing any acute illness, hepatitis E infections may become persistent in immunosuppressed patients, putting them at risk of future chronic liver disease, and a policy is needed to identify these persistently infected patients and provide them with appropriate antiviral treatment”.
Ideally, blood donations should be tested for all known viruses. However, screening is expensive and prolonged and often lacks the necessary accuracy. Leading suppliers of laboratory products help clinical laboratories to provide accurate, reliable and fast test results by supplying high quality infectious disease kits including those to screen for viral hepatitis in human serum and plasma, at prices lower than the regular rates. For instance, screening kits such as the DRG Hepatitis C Virus IgG Enzyme Immunoassay to detect IgG-class antibodies to Hepatitis C Virus in serum and the HBc IgM ELISA screening for the IgM class antibodies to Hepatitis B Virus core Antigen in plasma and sera are available at online lab equipment stores at prices much lower than new.
Lab test results play a crucial role in medical decision-making, and high quality, affordable lab testing can go a long way in early detection, diagnosis and treatment of potentially fatal diseases.