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J Med Virol. 2009 Oct;81(10):1743-9. doi: 10.1002/jmv.21564.

Imported and autochthonous hepatitis E virus strains in Spain.

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  • 1Service of Diagnostic Microbiology, National Centre for Microbiology, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain.


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) causes hepatitis E, an acute liver disease displaying diverse epidemiological patterns that correlate with the genetic diversity of the virus. Only a few strains have been characterized to date from cases of hepatitis E in Spain. Using three sets of new, HEV-specific primers, viral genome fragments were amplified from serum samples from 13 patients with acute hepatitis in different regions of Spain. Direct sequencing of these fragments and analysis of sequences lead to identify six genotype 1, six genotype 3, and one genotype 4 viral strains. Genotype 1 sequences were found in the clade with subtype 1a strains, and were amplified from travelers from India and Bangladesh, and from an African immigrant. Genotype 3 sequences were found in the clade with subtype 3f strains, were always amplified from patients who did not travel abroad recently, and were closely related to sequences from swine strains isolated in Spain. Patients infected by these strains lived in different regions and were mainly men aged above 50 years. The single genotype 4 sequence detected was amplified from a traveler returning from Vietnam. Hepatitis E is both an imported and an autochthonous disease in Spain, and closely related HEV genotype 3f strains are responsible for infections acquired locally in different regions of the country within a given time. Studies involving a significant number of human, swine, and environmental viral strains collected prospectively are, however, required in order to confirm a swine origin for autochthonous HEV genotype 3 human infections.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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