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July 23, 2017

HBKU Press Highlights Hepatitis Causes and Prevalence

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Hepatitis is a disease which encompasses inflammation of the liver. There are five main Hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, and E), and they differ in their severity and how they are spread but are all still a variation of the liver disease. Studies published on HBKU Press’s online, open-access platform, QScience.com, illustrate Hepatitis in relevance to Qatar.
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Dr. Alwaleed Alkhaja, Senior Editor at HBKU Press, says: “QScience.com’s new collection feature provides a compilation of articles on a particular subject matter so any viewer can have easy access to specific information. In this case, studies relating to Hepatitis’ prevalence in relation to the Arab region have been gathered. Hepatitis outbreaks occur mostly in developing regions where sanitation is low and whose populations have low socioeconomic statuses, and it is crucial to be aware of its presence to prevent its spread.”

The Arabian Gulf is classified as highly endemic, meaning the region is prone to developing Hepatitis E virus (HEV). In Qatar specifically, this may be due to its diverse population, as a high number of expatriate workers come from countries with low-socioeconomic statuses that are highly endemic for HEV. An article titled “Is it the time for Hepatitis E virus (HEV) Testing for Blood Donors in Qatar?” published from Qatar Foundation Annual Research Conference Proceedings (2016), Gheyath Nasrallah and Laila Hedaya et. al. (from Qatar University) speculate on HEV’s transmission in Qatar via blood transfusion.

The researchers hypothesized that HEV’s prevalence in Qatar is elevated, and therefore, there is a risk of HEV transfusion transmitted infections in Qatar’s blood bank. The chief aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of HEV among healthy blood donors in Qatar, and researchers examined this by testing a total of 4056 blood samples from blood donors at Hamad Medical Corporation.

The results showed that out of all the samples, almost one quarter of blood donors (20.45%) tested positive for HEV antibodies, meaning that the respective individuals have been exposed to HEV, but have not necessarily been infected by it. This suggests the possibility of HEV transmission by blood transfusion. Moreover, researchers concluded that blood banks in Qatar should consider screening for HEV, especially when transfusion involves pregnant women or patients with weak immune systems.

For a look at the entire featured collection of articles about Hepatitis on Qscience.com, go to: http://www.qscience.com/toc/qcoll/2017/2 .