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J Med Virol. 2009 Oct;81(10):1750-9. doi: 10.1002/jmv.21553.

Frequent transmission of hepatitis E virus among piglets in farms in Southern France.

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1
URMITE CNRS-IRD UMR 6236, Facultés de Médecine et de Pharmacie, Université de la Méditerranée Aix-Marseille-II, Marseille, France.

Abstract

The present study aimed to assess whether hepatitis E virus (HEV) is present in domestic pigs in Southern France, and to determine the relationship between HEV sequences detected from pigs and from humans. Two hundred fifteen sera, 207 stools, and 107 bile samples were collected from 3- or 6-month-old pigs from different regions of Southern France. Pig IgG anti-HEV antibodies testing was performed using a commercial ELISA kit with minor modifications. Pig HEV RNA was tested by real-time PCR and sequencing assays using "in-house" protocols. Forty percent of pigs were HEV-seropositive. Sixty-five percent of 3-month-old pigs and none of 6-month-old pigs were HEV RNA-positive. HEV RNA was significantly more frequently detected from stools than from sera (65% vs. 22%; P < 0.001). Phylogenetic analysis showed that pig HEV sequences belonged to genotype 3 and formed two clusters of genotype 3f and 3e. Nucleotide homology between pig HEV sequences of each cluster was high (>97%), and clusters were correlated with the geographical origin of pigs and with their repartition into pens and buildings in the pig farm. Based on analysis of 331 nucleotides, pig HEV sequences were close genetically to HEV sequences found from humans or pigs in Europe, and one showed complete nucleotide identity with an HEV sequence obtained in France from a human. The present data indicate that 3-month-old pigs from Southern France might represent a potential source of HEV transmission to humans, and stress the potential of HEV to cause epizootic infections in population of farm pigs.

PMID:
19697419
DOI:
10.1002/jmv.21553
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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