Hepatitis E Virus in Niger

On 12 April 2017, the Niger Ministry of Health notified WHO of a Hepatitis E Virus outbreak in the Diffa region, located in the eastern part of the country. On 19 April 2017, the outbreak was officially declared by the Minister of Health.

Since 9 January 2017, an increase in cases of jaundice was noted at the Centre Mere-Enfant de Diffa ('Mother and Child Center of Diffa') among pregnant women. Initially, the cases presented with headache, vomiting, fever, conjunctivitis, pelvic pain and memory loss.

Yellow fever was initially suspected as the cause of this outbreak. However, considering a number of cases among pregnant women reporting to the Mother and Child Center in Diffa and the Hepatitis E Virus outbreak in neighbouring Chad, Hepatitis E Virus was also considered as a potential cause of signs and symptoms. Samples were collected and sent to Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) for laboratory testing. Of the 29 samples tested so far, all tested negative for yellow fever and 15 tested positive for Hepatitis E by PCR.

As of 3 May 2017, a total of 282 suspected cases including 27 deaths have been reported. All reported deaths except for one death are among pregnant women (Case Fatality Rate: 9.6%). To date, five of the six districts in the Diffa region have reported cases, and 188 cases are from the Diffa and N’Guigmi districts. The Diffa region is a region affected by the Lake Chad basin crisis and there is frequent movement across the border.

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