Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the most common cause of acute viral hepatitis in England. Substantial yearly increases of autochthonous infections were observed during 2003-2016 and again during 2017-2019. Previous studies associated acute HEV cases with consumption of processed pork products, we investigated risk factors for autochthonous HEV infections in the blood donor population in England. Study participants were 117 HEV RNA-positive blood donors and 564 HEV RNA-negative blood donors. No persons with positive results were vegetarian; 97.4% of persons with positive results reported eating pork products. Consuming bacon (OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.7-5.5; p<0.0001), cured pork meats (OR 3.5, 95% CI 2.2-5.4; p<0.0001), and pigs' liver (OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.0-8.3; p = 0.04) were significantly associated with HEV infection. Our findings confirm previous links to pork products and suggest that appropriate animal husbandry is essential to reduce the risk for HEV infection.
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We thank the National Health Service Blood and Transplant Microbiology Services office staff who assisted in contacting donors. We thank all the donors who participated in the study.
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