Hepatitis E Virus Infection and Butchers: A Case-Control Seroprevalence Study

Cosme Alvarado-Esquivel, Veronica Dayali Gutierrez-Martinez, Eda Guadalupe Ramirez-Valles, Antonio Sifuentes-Alvarez


Background: Very few case-control studies to assess the risk of hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection in meat workers have been published. Therefore, we sought to determine: 1) the association of HEV IgG seropositivity and the occupation of butcher; and 2) the sociodemographic, work, clinical and behavioral characteristics of butchers associated with HEV exposure.

Methods: We performed a case-control seroprevalence study of 101 butchers (mean age: 38.50 12.52 years) and 101 age-, gender- and residence-matched control subjects of the general population. Anti-HEV IgG antibodies were determined using a commercially available enzyme-linked immunoassay. Bivariate and regression analyses were used to assess the association between HEV seropositivity and characteristics of butchers.

Results: Anti-HEV IgG antibodies were found in 18 (17.8%) of the 101 butchers and in 14 (13.9%) of the 101 control subjects (odds ratio (OR): 1.34; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.63 - 2.88; P = 0.44). Stratification by sex, age and area of residence (rural or urban) in cases and controls showed similar seroprevalences of HEV infection among groups. Bivariate analysis showed that HEV seroprevalence was associated with low education (up to 6 years), work place, seniority, eating while working, a history of raising farm animals and national trips. However, further analysis by logistic regression showed that only the variable of national trips was associated with HEV exposure (OR: 5.38; 95% CI: 1.02 - 28.16; P = 0.04). Concerning clinical characteristics of butchers, no association between HEV exposure and health status, history of surgery or blood transfusion was found.

Conclusions: Results from this first age-, gender- and residence-matched serosurvey of HEV infection in butchers in Mexico suggest that this population group does not have a higher risk for HEV infection than people from the general population. However, further studies to confirm the lack of association between HEV infection and the occupation of butcher are needed.

Gastroenterol Res. 2021;14(2):96-103
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/gr1198


Hepatitis E virus; Butchers; Epidemiology; Case-control study; Mexico

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