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J Med Virol. 2017 Nov;89(11):1995-2002. doi: 10.1002/jmv.24875. Epub 2017 Jul 6.

Prevalence and genetic features of rabbit hepatitis E virus in Korea.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine, Konkuk University, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, Korea.
Animal Planning Division, Seoul Zoo, Gwacheon, Gyenggi, Korea.


Hepatitis caused by hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a public health concern worldwide. HEV strains have been isolated from several animal species, some of which induce zoonosis. Recently, the isolation of HEV from rabbits was reported. Here, the partial capsid gene (320 bp) of HEV was detected in rabbit feces via reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Rabbit HEV was found in two of six rabbit farms and 17 of 264 rabbit fecal samples (6.4%). A phylogenetic analysis of the partial capsid gene classified the 17 HEV isolates into the putative rabbit HEV clade. A full genomic sequence, KOR-Rb-1, was obtained from one rabbit HEV isolate by 5' and 3' rapid amplification of cDNA ends-PCR and RT-PCR, and comprised 7275 bp excluding the 3' poly(A) tail. It shared 77.5-86.8%, 86.6%, and 80.2-84.3% nucleotide identities with rabbit HEV isolates from China, the US, and France, respectively. It also shared 72.3-73.0%, 71.4%, 76.7-78.3%, 72.8-73.3%, and 47.1-47.2% nucleotide identities with representative strains of HEV-1, HEV-2, HEV-3, HEV-4, and avian HEV, respectively. A full-genome phylogenetic analysis classified KOR-Rb-1 into the provisional rabbit HEV clade. This isolate could be used to study the pathogenesis and zoonotic potential of rabbit HEV.


HEV; capsid gene; genome; rabbit; zoonosis

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