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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1997 Jul;57(1):62-5.

Epidemic and sporadic hepatitis E virus transmission in West Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia.

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U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2, Jakarta, Indonesia.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted in West Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia to geographically profile hepatitis E virus (HEV) prevalence in the riverine areas recognized as the foci of epidemic HEV transmission in 1987. Additionally, a contiguous, although distinct, population with no identifiable historical exposure to epidemic HEV was surveyed downstream for comparative purposes. Eight hundred eighty-five sera were assayed by enzyme immunoabsorbent assay for anti-HEV IgG and anti-hepatitis A virus (HAV) IgG markers. A very high percent (90%) of both the outbreak and comparison populations was anti-HAV IgG positive by the age of nine years. In contrast, the prevalence of anti-HEV IgG in the outbreak area (50%) was significantly higher than in the comparison area (23%) (P < 0.0001). In both the outbreak and comparison areas, anti-HEV IgG prevalence increased with age ( < 0.0001), except for the group > or = 50 years of age. The prevalence (53%) of antibody to HEV in the population > or = seven years of age from the outbreak area (alive during the actual 1987 outbreak) was significantly (P < 0.0001) greater than among the children < seven years of age (born after the outbreak) (15%). However, anti-HEV IgG prevalence among the population from the comparison area did not differ significantly between the > or = seven- (23%) and < seven- (20%) year-old age groups. The percentage of anti-HEV IgG-positive individuals among males (47%) from the outbreak area was lower (P < 0.05) compared with females (55%). While overall usage of river water for drinking purposes was not universal, dependence on river water as a primary source was significantly higher (P < 0.001) in households from the outbreak area (60%) compared with the comparison area (30%). This study indicates persistence of an anti-HEV IgG response in a large percentage of the population seven years after an epidemic of HEV infections. Also, the relatively high prevalence (15%) of anti-HEV in children < seven years of age from the outbreak area reflects continuing, sporadic infections.

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