Background. Enhanced surveillance and molecular characterisation studies of hepatitis E virus (HEV) in England and Wales have been undertaken since 2003. The dynamics of hepatitis E have changed recently with an increase in the number of indigenous cases and an observed viral shift.Methods. HEV antibody and RNA data were analysed to ascertain the annual number of acute infections, the HEV genotype disposition and viral phylogeny. These data were investigated in the context of collected travel history and demographic data.Results. In total, 2713 acute hepatitis E cases were diagnosed, of which 1376 were indigenous infections. Travel associated cases remained steady and mainly associated with Genotype 1 infections. In contrast, major fluctuations were noted in indigenously-acquired cases with a dramatic year on year increase during 2010-2012. Molecular characterisation demonstrated indigenous infections to cluster into two distinct phylogenetic groups with the emergence of a novel group of Genotype 3 viruses coinciding with the recent increase in cases.Conclusions. HEV infection rates are dynamic in England and Wales, influenced by changing trends in indigenously-acquired cases. The recent increase in indigenous cases and the emergence of indigenous viruses not commonly circulating prior to 2010 suggest that the risk of acquiring HEV has changed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support. This work was supported by resources from within the Virus Reference Department, MS-Colindale, Public Health England, London, UK.
- England and Wales
- hepatitis E
- molecular characterisation
- patient demography