Outbreak of Hepatitis "E" in Risalpur garrison

  • Tariq Bin Sherif
  • Waheeduz Zaman Tariq

Abstract

Introduction: Hepatitis E virus is an RNA virus. It results in epidemics/outbreaks in geographical areas lacking clean water and sanitation. It is excreted in stools and is enterically transmitted (faeco-oral route). The clinical picture resembles other acute hepatitis and diagnosis is clinched by detecting anti-HEV IgM in infected individuals. It is a self-limiting disease and does not progress to chronicity. There is no vaccine available so far, to confer immunity against HEV infection. HEV is endemic in many parts of the world and has resulted in many epidemics / outbreaks worldwide. It is also endemic in Pakistan and epidemics / outbreaks have generally been under reported. Objective: To establish the cause of outbreak. Study design: Descriptive laboratory based. Time and place of study: May 2005 to Sep 2005, at Combined Military Hospital, Risalpur and Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, (AFIP) Rawalpindi. Materials and methods: Blood samples of the patients (n=195), admitted in isolation ward were collected aseptically for routine baseline investigations and hepatitis screening. Separate blood samples were sent to Armed Forces Institute of pathology (AFIP), Rawaplindi for detection of antibodies to hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV IgM). Water samples collected during the outbreak were tested by multiple tube technique. MPN (Most Probable Number) method was used to determine faecal coliform bacteria per 100 ml of water sample. Results: All the patients (n=195) on admission had raised ALT (Alanine Aminotransferase) levels alongwith hyperbilirubinemia, 37% had raised TLC with polymorphonuclear response. None had HBsAg (Hepatitis B surface antign) or anti-HCV (antibodies to hepatitis C virus), 23% had prolonged PT (Prothrombin Time). Samples despatched to AFIP Rawalpindi confirmed the presence of anti-HEV IgM. Follow up analysis revealed many fold increase in ALT levels. Average stay in the Hospital was 23.6 days per patient. All the water samples were declared unfit for drinking due to high coliform count. Conclusion: At present, no vaccine is available to protect against HEV infection. Mainstay for prevention and occurrence is to formulate cost-effective strategies for improvement of self/environmental hygiene and sanitation.
Published
2016-08-03
Section
Articles