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J Med Virol. 2009 Aug;81(8):1371-9. doi: 10.1002/jmv.21536.

A novel genotype of hepatitis E virus prevalent among farmed rabbits in China.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products, Beijing, China.


In total, 335 serum samples were collected from rabbits from two farms in Gansu province, China, and tested for anti-hepatitis E virus (HEV) antibody using EIA and for HEV RNA using nested RT- PCR with ORF2 primers. The overall prevalence of anti-HEV antibody and HEV RNA was 57.0% (191/335) and 7.5% (25/335), respectively. The positivity rate of HEV RNA in the anti-HEV antibody negative group (7.6% (11/144)) did not differ significantly from that in the positive group (7.3% (14/191)). The concordance between HEV RNA and anti-HEV antibody was 43.3% with no significant correlation (P < 0.05). All 25 amplicons from the ORF2 region were cloned and sequenced. On the basis of nucleotide sequence comparison, they had 84-99% identity to each other and 73-77%, 70-76%, 75-82%, 71-77%, and 53-65% with the corresponding regions of genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, and avian HEV, respectively. Samples that were positive with the ORF2 primers were amplified using ORF1 region primers; 17 were positive and shared 71-78%, 73-76%, 74-82%, 72-78%, and 39-58% identity with the corresponding regions of genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, and avian HEV, respectively, at the nucleotide level. Two representative full-length sequences were determined. These two sequences shared 85% identity with each other and had 74%, 73%, 78-79%, 74-75%, and 46-47% identity to full-length genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, and avian HEV, respectively. Thus, the sequences isolated from the rabbits represent a novel genotype of HEV. This study provides novel information about HEV genotypes infecting rabbits as well as evidence of a new mammalian genotype of HEV.

2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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