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Sook-Hyang Jeong 1 Article
The first reported hepatitis E outbreak in a food manufacturing factory: Korea, 2022
Hansol Yeom, Soonryu Seo, Youngsil Yoon, Jaeeun Lee, Myung-Guk Han, Deog-Yong Lee, Sun-Whan Park, Song A Park, Sook-Hyang Jeong, Jin Gwack
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2023;14(1):15-22.   Published online February 22, 2023
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2022.0305
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Objectives
On February 16, 2022, 12 cases of hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection were reported in a food manufacturing factory in Korea. The aim of this study was to identify additional cases and to determine the source of this HEV outbreak. Methods: This study was an in-depth investigation of 12 HEV immunoglobulin M (IgM)-positive cases and their demographic, clinical, and epidemiological characteristics. On-site specimens were collected from the environment and from humans, and a follow-up investigation was conducted 2 to 3 months after the outbreak. Results: Among 80 production workers in the factory, 12 (15.0%) had acute HEV infection, all of whom were asymptomatic. The follow-up investigation showed that 3 cases were HEV IgMpositive, while 6 were HEV IgG-positive. HEV genes were not detected in the HEV IgM-positive specimens. HEV genes were not detected in the food products or environmental specimens collected on-site. HEV was presumed to be the causative pathogen. However, it could not be confirmed that the source of infection was common consumption inside the factory. Conclusion: This was the first domestic case of an HEV infection outbreak in a food manufacturing factory in Korea. Our results provide information for the future control of outbreaks and for the preparation of measures to prevent domestic outbreaks of HEV infection.

PHRP : Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives