Centre de Recherche du Service de Sante des Armees, Department of Virus Diseases, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Hopitaux d'Instruction des Armees du Val de Grace, Hopitaux d'Instruction des Armees du Val de Begin, Faculte de Pharmacie, Hopital Central, La Tronche, France
Epidemics of enterically-transmitted non-A, non-B hepatitis were described in 1983–1984 involving French soldiers in Chad and in 1979–1980 in residents of Algeria. Hepatitis E virus (HEV) was subsequently implicated by serology. In this study, the presence of HEV in patient stool specimens from both outbreaks and from sporadic cases in residents of Chad (1994) was documented. This virus was detected in fecal suspensions by antibody capture of the virus and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction amplification of the viral RNA in the 3′ end of open reading frame 2. Two of five epidemic cases from Chad (1983–1984) were positive, as well as one of five sporadic cases from Chad (1994), and two of three epidemic cases from Algeria (1979–1980). Of these 13 patients, 12 had detectable anti-HEV IgG in their serum. These results confirmed that HEV was the cause of hepatitis in at least five of these 13 patients.