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Hriskova, K.; Marosevic, D.; Belting, A.; Wenzel, J. J.; Carl, A. and Katz, K. (2021): Epidemiology of Hepatitis E in 2017 in Bavaria, Germany. In: Food and Environmental Virology, Vol. 13, No. 3: pp. 337-346

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In the last decade, the number of reported hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections in Germany, including Bavaria, has continued to rise. In order to identify risk factors associated with HEV infection, we investigated notified hepatitis E cases from Bavaria during 2017. The project Intensified Hepatitis E Surveillance in Bavaria included interviews with questionnaires, collection and genotyping of stool, serum and food samples. In addition, certain risk factors were examined in a sample comparison with healthy population using univariable analysis and logistic regression. In total, 135 hepatitis E cases from Bavaria were included in the analysis. Mean age for women was 46 (range 20-74) years and 47.5 (range 20-85) for men. 56 of the cases (41.5%) were asymptomatic. Among the symptomatic cases, both men and women were equally affected with symptoms like fever (16.3%), jaundice (18.8%) and upper abdominal pain (28.2%). 145 human samples (serum, stool) and 6 food samples were collected. 15.9% of the human samples (n = 23) were positive for HEV RNA by reverse-transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR). Identified risk factors significantly associated with hepatitis E were sausage consumption with odds ratio 9.6 (CI 1.3-70.1), fish with OR 2.2 (CI 1.1-4.4) and cat ownership with OR 1.9 (CI 1.3-3.0) in multivariable analyses. Further investigation is needed to confirm the role of fish in HEV transmission. Autochthonous HEV genotype 3 is prevalent in Bavaria and there could be more transmission routes contributing to the spread of HEV than previously known. Undercooked meat, offal, sausages, fish, shellfish and contact with animals and pets are possible sources for infection.

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