Low seroprevalence of hepatitis E virus in pregnant women in an urban area near Pretoria, South Africa

Omphile E. Simani, Tshegofatso P. Seipone, Gloria Selabe, L. Mapaseka Seheri, M. Jeffrey Mphahlele, Simnikiwe H. Mayaphi, A. Duncan Steele*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is a globally neglected health problem with a high burden in resource-poor communities. Pregnant women are at increased risk of complications. This pilot study sought to assess the seroprevalence of HEV infection in pregnant women at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, South Africa. Methods: Stored serum samples from 384 HIV-uninfected pregnant women attending the antenatal clinic were initially screened for HEV total antibody. Positive samples were further evaluated for the presence of IgG and IgM antibody isotypes, using commercial ELISA assays. HEV RNA was assessed in antibody-positive samples utilizing qRT-PCR assay. Results: The sample consisted of women with a median age of 31 years (interquartile range: 28–35 years). Total HEV antibody was detected in 12/384 (3.13%, 95% CI: 1.80–5.38) of these pregnant women. All 12 samples were IgG HEV antibody positive, but none tested positive for IgM antibody or for HEV RNA, demonstrating a lack of current or recent exposure. Conclusions: Our study revealed a low seroprevalence of HEV among pregnant women from an urban area north of Pretoria. This observation warrants further attention to the circulation of HEV in this population, and a greater understanding of the epidemiology of the infection in South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-73
Number of pages4
JournalIJID Regions
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • HEV
  • South Africa
  • hepatitis E IgG
  • pregnant women
  • seroprevalence


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