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    In humans, hepatitis E virus (HEV) is responsible for an acute enterically transmitted hepatitis, which can become chronic in immune-compromised patients. Genotypes 3 and 4 (HEV-3 and HEV-4) are zoonotic, and domestic pigs and wild boar are the main reservoirs. The occurrence of autochthonous cases in Europe, which have been increasing over the last 10 years, has been associated with food-borne zoonotic transmission of HEV-3, mainly linked to consumption of undercooked or raw pork products (sausages containing liver) and wild boar meat. Zoonotic HEV-3 strains are widespread on pig farms, but little information is available on the dynamic of HEV-3 infection within farms, among pigs. The aims of this study were to evaluate the prevalence of the infection among pigs of different ages along the production chain by the zoonotic HEVs, and to evaluate how long the virus may persist in the farm environment. The presence of HEV-RNA was investigated by real-time reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) in 281 test faecal pools over 19 months (2017-2019) on a two-site farrow-to-finish farm (about 1,000 sows), in Northern Italy. A total of 67/281 test faecal pools (23.8%) resulted positive for the presence of HEV-RNA (site 1: 59/221, 26.7%; site 2: 8/60, 13.3%). Nucleotide sequencing revealed a unique HEV-3 viral variant circulating during 19 months of surveillance. The same HEV-3 strain was detected in the same farm on 2012, indicating the persistence of the same virus over 7 years, and highlighting the role of the environment as a continuous source of infection on pig farms. The results confirmed the circulation of the zoonotic genotype HEV-3 in pigs before slaughtering. © 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH.


    Giovanni Ianiro, Eleonora Chelli, Luca De Sabato, Marina Monini, Fabio Ostanello, Ilaria Di Bartolo. Long-term surveillance for hepatitis E virus in an Italian two-site farrow-to-finish swine farm. Zoonoses and public health. 2021 May 02

    PMID: 33934531

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