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First reported outbreak of locally acquired hepatitis E virus infection in Australia

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Hepatitis E virus (HEV) outbreaks have not previously been reported in Australia. HEV infection mostly occurs in developing countries where transmission occurs via the faecal–oral route and contaminated water, causing large outbreaks.1 HEV genotypes 1 and 2 predominate in these settings.2 Like other forms of acute viral hepatitis, symptoms of HEV include jaundice, malaise, anorexia, fever and abdominal pain.1 The incubation period is 15–64 days.3

Recently, HEV transmission has been reported in developed countries, where infection has occurred via HEV-contaminated food. Consumption of pork products, deer meat, wild boar and shellfish has been implicated, with HEV genotypes 3 and 4 being detected in infected persons.2,48

Pigs, in particular, may play a role in human HEV transmission.9 An increased risk of HEV infection associated with the consumption of processed pork products was found by a recent case–control study in the United Kingdom.10 Human and swine HEV strains exhibit a high degree of sequence homology.5,