Publication: Hepatitis E Virus Prevalence amongst Blood Donors in Selected Regions of Kenya
Currently, Kenya is carrying out mandatory tests for four transfusion-transmissible infections for the provision of safe adequate blood as required by the World Health Organization. These mandatory tests include HIV 1 and 2, hepatitis B and C viruses and syphilis. Hepatitis E Virus is a transfusion-transmissible virus that can cause lasting liver illness and therefore, an important public health concern. Presently, there is no scientific documentation on Hepatitis E Virus prevalence of voluntary blood donors in Kenya. The objective of the present study was to evaluate Hepatitis E Virus prevalence of voluntary blood donors in Kenya. The findings from this study will aid in the development of safe blood transfusion policy, hence mitigate transfusion-transmissible Hepatitis E Virus via blood and blood products. Blood samples were obtained from voluntary blood donors upon consenting in six regional blood collection centers in Kenya. The blood samples were transported under cold chain to the national central testing laboratory in Nairobi, Kenya to test for IgG and IgM seroprevalence using ELISA. Confirmatory test was done using RT-PCR for 19 blood samples which tested seropositive for Hepatitis E Virus IgM and/or IgG antibodies. The present study recorded a Hepatitis E Virus seroprevalence of 4.9% which is similar to non-endemic countries. There was no association between Hepatitis E Virus seroprevalence and gender, age or region of blood collection. This study also recorded Hepatitis E Virus IgM and IgG seroprevalences of 3.4% and 2.6% respectively. There was an association between age and Hepatitis E Virus IgG seroprevalence. No Hepatitis E viremia was detected among IgM and/or IgG seropositive blood samples. This study confirmed for the presence of Hepatitis E Virus IgM and/or IgG seropositive blood samples among blood donors in Kenya and therefore, recommends screening of blood products to mitigate transfusion-transmissible Hepatitis E Virus infection.