Hepatitis E - Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Hepatitis E

The IBTS introduced a new test on 4 January 2016 - a test for Hepatitis E. Hepatitis E infection is a disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV), a virus which can infect both animals and humans. This virus usually does not cause any illness in healthy blood donors and in fact it usually clears rapidly from their blood. However, in people whose immune system is suppressed - for example following transplantation – the virus can persist and lead to chronic inflammation of the liver.

The virus is usually acquired through eating infected undercooked pork or processed pork products, or shellfish. The virus may also be transmitted by blood transfusions and as people who receive blood transfusions can often have a suppressed immune system, the IBTS has decided to test for this virus in the interests of these patients. If your blood tests positive for this virus, your donation will be discarded. We will contact you and arrange for further blood tests.

Hepatitis E is a notifiable disease. This means that we are legally bound to inform the Public Health Service if your blood tests positive for this virus. If this happens we are obliged to forward your personal details including your name and address and the results of your blood tests.

The IBTS will repeat blood tests on donors who are positive until the virus is cleared from their blood. Once it is confirmed that the virus has been cleared, the donors will be returned to the active donor panel approximately six months after they first tested

positive. If you would like further information please ask a member of staff on clinic or phone 1800 60 20 20.