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      Detection of hepatitis E virus in wild boars of rural and urban regions in Germany and whole genome characterization of an endemic strain

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          Abstract

          Background

          Hepatitis E is an increasingly diagnosed human disease in Central Europe. Besides domestic pigs, in which hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is highly prevalent, wild boars have been identified as a possible source of human infection. In order to assess the distribution of HEV in the wild boar population of Germany, we tested liver samples originating from different geographical regions for the presence of the HEV genome and compared the detected sequences to animal and human HEV strains.

          Results

          A total of 148 wild boar liver samples were tested using real-time RT-PCR resulting in an average HEV detection rate of 14.9% (95% CI 9.6–21.6). HEV was detected in all age classes and all geographical regions. However, the prevalence of HEV infection was significantly higher in rural as compared to urban regions (p < 0.001). Sequencing of the PCR products indicated a high degree of heterogenicity of the detected viruses within genotype 3 and a grouping according to their geographical origin. The whole genome sequence of an HEV isolate (wbGER27) detected in many wild boars in the federal state of Brandenburg was determined. It belongs to genotype 3i and shows 97.9% nucleotide sequence identity to a partial sequence derived from a human hepatitis E patient from Germany.

          Conclusion

          The results indicate that wild boars have to be considered as a reservoir for HEV in Germany and that a risk of HEV transmission to humans is present in rural as well as urban regions.

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          Most cited references23

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          Severe hepatitis E virus infection after ingestion of uncooked liver from a wild boar.

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            Phylogenetic and case-control study on hepatitis E virus infection in Germany.

            Hepatitis E is a classic water-borne disease in developing countries. In Germany, hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections are notifiable. The number of non-travel-associated infections has increased in recent years, but the route of transmission in most is unknown. Our objective was to determine risk factors for autochthonous HEV infections in Germany. Cases of HEV met clinical definitions and were confirmed by laboratory analysis (defined as detection of HEV by polymerase chain reaction [PCR] or immunoglobulin M by serologic testing). PCR products from blood or stool samples were genotyped for phylogenetic analysis. A case-control study included case subjects with autochthonous HEV infection and matched control subjects who were randomly recruited from a population-based telephone list. From May 2006 through August 2007, 76 of 96 persons for whom HEV infection had been reported to the routine surveillance system were interviewed. Sixty-six persons had disease that fulfilled the inclusion criteria: 45 (68%) had autochthonous infection, and 21 (32%) had travel-associated disease. Genotypes 3 or 4 were present in 15 of 15 persons with autochthonous infection, and genotype 1 was present in 8 of 9 persons with travel-associated infection. In conditional logistic regression involving 45 case subjects and 135 control subjects, consumption of offal (41% vs. 19%; odds ratio [OR], 2.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-6.2) and wild-boar meat (20% vs. 7%; OR, 4.3; 95% CI, 1.2-15.9) were independently associated with autochthonous HEV infection. Hepatitis E is endemic in Germany and likely exists as a food-borne zoonosis. Implicated meat products should be investigated to provide recommendations for preventive measures.
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              Complete or near-complete nucleotide sequences of hepatitis E virus genome recovered from a wild boar, a deer, and four patients who ate the deer.

              Zoonosis has been implicated in hepatitis E virus (HEV) transmission. We examined wild boar living in a forest of Hyogo prefecture, Japan, and found HEV RNA in three of seven boars. A full-genome HEV isolate from one of them was revealed to be 99.7% identical to a previous isolate from a wild deer hunted in the same forest and to those from four patients who contracted hepatitis E after eating raw meat of the deer. These findings suggest an interspecies HEV transmission between boar and deer in their wild life, and that both animals might serve as an infection source for human beings as suggested previously.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Virol J
                Virology Journal
                BioMed Central
                1743-422X
                2009
                14 May 2009
                : 6
                : 58
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Diedersdorfer Weg 1, 12277 Berlin, Germany
                [2 ]State Office for Food Safety and Consumer Protection Thuringia, Bad Langensalza, Germany
                [3 ]Free University of Berlin, Faculty for Veterinary Medicine, Germany
                [4 ]Robert Koch Institute, Department for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Berlin, Germany
                Article
                1743-422X-6-58
                10.1186/1743-422X-6-58
                2689194
                19442307
                2286e98b-97bb-40a4-8f43-26d6d674107d
                Copyright © 2009 Schielke et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Research

                Microbiology & Virology

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