Seroprevalence of hepatitis E in swine abattoir workers.
Background: Hepatitis E (HE) caused by Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an emerging global public health threat. It has been identified as potentially zoonotic and swine act as main reservoirs.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine the seroprevalence and risk factors associated with HEV in swine abattoir workers.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study where 45 workers were sampled (N=50), serum collected and tested for presence of anti HEV IgM using ELISA.
Results: A seroprevalence of 13.3% was obtained with the highest 50% among slaughterers and the lowest amongst sanitary cleaner, cloth cleaners and inspector. Those in direct contact with live pigs, their carcasses and tissues were at a higher risk compared to those in indirect contact. Seroprevalence was seen to increase with age, with the highest rate among those above 24 years.
Conclusion: There is silent HE virus infection in abattoir workers at Wambizi as reflected by presence anti HEV IgM in 13% of the tested serum. However, no single case of HE has ever been reported in swine abattoir workers or general population in Kampala city. This silent maintenance of HEV infection amongst swine abattoir workers is an occupational risk that could challenge public health systems.
Keywords: Hepatitis E, seroprevalence, swine abattoir workers