Risk of Hepatitis E from consumption of deer?

Japanese authors of a research letter in this week's issue of THE LANCET provide evidence that hepatitis E infection may be transmitted by consumption of Sika deer, a Japanese delicacy.

Hepatitis E is rare in economically developed countries. An animal route (zoonosis) has been suggested for hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection, despite a lack of direct evidence.

Shunji Mishiro from Toshiba General Hospital, Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues report how four members of two Japanese families contracted hepatitis E after eating raw Japanese deer meat (a local delicacy) on three occasions over seven weeks before the first family member had hepatitis confirmed after hospital admission. On testing, a left over portion of the deer meat, kept frozen to eat in the future, was positive for HEV RNA, whose genetic sequence was identical to those from the patients.

Shunji Mishiro comments: "Our patients became infected with HEV by eating the raw meat (or sashimi in Japanese) of an infected deer. We know of no report that has described the presence of HEV RNA or antibodies in deer, whereas many have described its presence in swine, cows, goats, and rodents. We suggest the Sika deer and consumption of its raw meat be added to the list of foods with a risk of transmitting HEV."


Contact: Joe Santangelo

Page: 1

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