Hepatitis E in Bangladesh: Insights From a National Serosurvey

Azman AS, Paul KK, Bhuiyan TR, Koyuncu A, Salje H, Qadri F, Gurley ES


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) genotypes 1 and 2 are a major cause of avoidable morbidity and mortality in South Asia. Despite the high risk of death among infected pregnant women, scarce incidence data has been a contributing factor to global policy recommendations against the introduction of licensed hepatitis E vaccines, one of the only effective prevention tools.


We tested serum from a nationally representative serosurvey in Bangladesh for anti-HEV immunoglobulin G and estimated seroprevalence. We used Bayesian geostatistical models to generate high-resolution maps of seropositivity and examined variability in seropositivity by individual-level, household-level, and community-level risk factors using spatial logistic regression.


We tested serum samples from 2924 individuals from 70 communities representing all divisions of Bangladesh and estimated a national seroprevalence of 20% (95% confidence interval [CI], 17%-24%). Seropositivity increased with age and male sex (odds ratio, 2.2 male vs female; 95% CI, 1.8-2.8). Community-level seroprevalence ranged widely (0-78%) with higher seroprevalence in urban areas, including Dhaka, with a 3.0-fold (95% credible interval, 2.3-3.7) higher seroprevalence than the rest of the country.


Hepatitis E infections are common throughout Bangladesh. Strengthening surveillance for hepatitis E, especially in urban areas, can provide additional evidence to appropriately target interventions.