Background and Aim:
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a major public health problem in the developing countries. HEV infection in pregnant women is more common and fatal in the third trimester. The present study was designed to determine the seroprevalence of subclinical HEV infection in asymptomatic pregnant women.
Materials and Methods:
A total of 116 asymptomatic pregnant women divided into 2 groups: Group 1 included 56 pregnant women with HCV positive serology and group 2 included 60 pregnant women with negative HCV serology were included in this study. Prevalence of anti-HEV antibodies and anti-HCV were determined by an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit.
The overall prevalence of anti-HEV IgG was highly significant among pregnant women with chronic HCV infection 40/56 (71.42%) than pregnant women free from chronic HCV infection 28/60 (46.7%) (P = 0.006). Chronic HCV infection in pregnant women appeared to be a risk factor associated with HEV IgG seropositivity (OR = 2.86, CI = 1.24-6.6). The seropositivity of anti-HEV IgG was significantly high in rural areas than urban areas (62.5% vs. 37.5%) in group 1 and (78.58% vs. 21.42%) in group 2 (P = 0.15) and OR = 2.2, CI = 0.65-7.7). A decrease in albumin level (P = 0.047) and an increase in bilirubin (P = 0.025), ALT (P = 0.032), and AST (P = 0.044) in pregnant women with positive HCV and IgG anti-HEV than the second group with negative HCV serology.
The seroprevalence of anti-HEV IgG in pregnant women is high in Egypt especially in rural areas. With chronic HCV coinfection, a marked increase in anti-HEV IgG seropositivity and significant worsening of the biochemical liver indices were noted. Increased public awareness about the sound hygienic measures for a less prevalence of HEV is strongly advised. The need for HEV vaccination for those at risk, especially pregnant ladies, should be considered.