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J Med Virol. 2008 Aug;80(8):1387-90. doi: 10.1002/jmv.21220.

The detection and characterization of hepatitis E virus in pig livers from retail markets of India.

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Hepatitis Division, National Institute of Virology, Pashan, Pune, India.


The zoonotic transmission of Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a well-established fact and pigs are known reservoirs of the virus. The human and swine HEV from countries such as the USA, Japan and Taiwan, show a remarkable sequence identity. Swine liver samples from markets in Japan and US were shown to be HEV RNA positive. In contrast, in India, viruses belonging to different genotypes, that is, genotypes 1 and 4 circulate in humans and pigs respectively, at least for the last 20 years. To assess possible exposure of the Indian population to swine HEV, 240 pig liver samples were collected from retail markets of Pune, western India. Two (0.83%) samples were found positive for HEV RNA by nested RT-PCR. Nucleotide sequence-based phylogenetic analysis showed the presence of genotype 4 HEV with 90-91% similarity and clustering with Indian swine HEV sequences generated earlier. The data suggest the possibility of HEV infection in persons consuming infected pig liver. So far, it has not been possible to detect any type 4 HEV infection in humans. The absence of type 4 infections in humans may be attributed to cooking leading to the inactivation of the virus.

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