Is it the time for Hepatitis E virus (HEV) Testing for Blood Donors in Qatar?
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HEV is the etiologic agent of acute hepatitis E. Although HEV usually causes a self-limiting infection, the disease may develop into a chronic or fulminant form of Hepatitis. Sporadic HEV infections spread in several developed countries; however, outbreaks usually occur in regions where sanitation is low, in particular, in developing countries where water flooding frequently occurs. In addition, religious background, life style, hygienic practices, and the economic status have been linked to HEV infection. Fecal-oral is the established route of transmission, however, infections through blood transfusion were recently documented in many developed and developing countries. This recent finding raises the question: is there is a need for HEV screening prior transfusion or transplantation? Studies related to this issue, in the Middle East are scarce. Although the CDC HEV epidemiological map, classifies the Arabian Gulf countries including Qatar as endemic or highly endemic, to the best of our knowledge, no HEV population –based epidemiological study were conducted in Qatar. HEV infection is usually detected using IgM and IgG serological tests and confirmed by molecular tests for detection of viral RNA. Yet, commercially available HEV serological kits are not validated, and needs further investigation.