A Systematic Review of Hepatitis E Virus Detection in Camels

Santos-Silva, Sérgio; Hemnani, Mahima; Lopez-Lopez, Pedro; Gonçalves, Helena M.R.; Rivero-Juarez, António; van der Poel, Wim H.M.; Nascimento, Maria São José; Mesquita, João R.


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) represents a major cause of acute hepatitis and is considered an emerging public health problem around the world. In the Middle East’s and Africa’s arid regions, where camels frequently interact with human populations and camel-derived food products are a component of the food chain, camel-borne zoonotic HEV infection is a potential threat. To date, no review paper has been published on HEV in camels. As such, the purpose of the current work is to provide a scientific review of the identification of HEV genotypes seven and eight in camels worldwide to have a better understanding of the current status of this topic and to identify gaps in the current knowledge. Searches were carried out in the electronic databases PubMed, Mendeley, Web of Science, and Scopus, including studies published until 31 December 2022 (n = 435). Once the databases were checked for duplicate papers (n = 307), the exclusion criteria were applied to remove any research that was not relevant (n = 118). As a result, only 10 papers were found to be eligible for the study. Additionally, in eight of the ten studies, the rates of HEV infection were found to be between 0.6% and 2.2% in both stool and serum samples. Furthermore, four studies detected HEV genotype seven in dromedary camels, and two studies have shown HEV genotype eight in Bactrian camels. Interestingly, these genotypes were recently reported in camels from the Middle East and China, where one human infection with HEV genotype seven has been associated with the consumption of contaminated camel meat and milk. In conclusion, more research will be needed to determine the prevalence of HEV infection in camels around the world as well as the risk of foodborne transmission of contaminated camel products. As camels are utility animals in several countries, HEV in these animals may pose a potential risk to public health.