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Details of HEPATITIS E VIRUS ANTIBODY - IGM
What is HEPATITIS E VIRUS ANTIBODY - IGM?
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) causes an acute, usually self-limited, infection. This small, non-enveloped RNA virus is from animal reservoirs (eg, hogs) and is transmitted to humans via the fecal-oral route. HEV is endemic in Southeast and Central Asia, with several outbreaks observed in the Middle East, northern and western parts of Africa, and Mexico. In developed countries, HEV infection occurs mainly in individuals who have traveled to disease-endemic areas. Transmission of HEV may also occur rarely from direct person-to-person contact or transfusion of blood or blood products. Clinically severe cases occur in young to middle-aged adults. Unusually high mortality (approximately 20%) occurs in patients infected during the third trimester of pregnancy. Although there is no carrier state associated with HEV, immunocompromised patients may have prolonged periods (eg, months) of viremia and virus shedding in the stool.
In immunocompetent patients, viremia and virus shedding in the stool occurs in the pre-icteric phase, lasting up to 10 days into the clinical phase. After an incubation period ranging from 15 to 60 days, HEV-infected patients develop symptoms of hepatitis with the appearance of anti-HEV IgM antibody in serum, followed by detectable anti-HEV IgG within a few days. Anti-HEV IgM may remain detectable up to 6 months after the onset of symptoms, while anti-HEV IgG usually persists for many years after infection. Anti-HEV IgM is the serologic marker of choice for the diagnosis of acute HEV infection.
The positive predictive value of a given diagnostic laboratory test is dependent on the prevalence rate of the disease for which the test is being used. Screening tests for detection of diseases with low prevalence rates, such as acute hepatitis E, will have low positive predictive values (ie, relatively high rates of false-positive test results), despite having high specificity rates for such tests. Therefore, an HEV IgM antibody confirmatory test is helpful and necessary to determine the true infection status of patients with reactive HEV IgM antibody screening test results.