Emerging Infectious Diseases
Volume 18, Number 9—September 2012
Hepatitis E, a Vaccine-Preventable Cause of Maternal Deaths
A. B. Labrique et al.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a major cause of illness and of death in the developing world and disproportionate cause of deaths among pregnant women. Although HEV vaccine trials, including trials conducted in populations in southern Asia, have shown candidate vaccines to be effective and well-tolerated, these vaccines have not yet been produced or made available to susceptible populations. Surveillance data collected during 2001–2007 from >110,000 pregnancies in a population of ≈650,000 women in rural Bangladesh suggest that acute hepatitis, most of it likely hepatitis E, is responsible for ≈9.8% of pregnancy-associated deaths. If these numbers are representative of southern Asia, as many as 10,500 maternal deaths each year in this region alone may be attributable to hepatitis E and could be prevented by using existing vaccines.