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      Serological and virological survey of hepatitis E virus (HEV) in animal reservoirs from Uruguay reveals elevated prevalences and a very close phylogenetic relationship between swine and human strains.

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          Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is an issue of public health concern in high-income and non-endemic countries. Increasing evidence supports the hypothesis of a zoonotic route as the main mode of infection in this epidemiological setting, since the transmission of genotypes HEV-3 and HEV-4 from reservoirs to humans has been demonstrated. In America, studies have confirmed the circulation of HEV in pig herds but the zoonotic role of wild boars has never been evaluated. Uruguay has a high burden of HEV- associated acute hepatitis, and a close phylogenetic relationship was observed among human HEV-3 strains and European isolates detected in swine. However in this context, swine herds have never been surveyed. Herein is reported a survey of HEV in swine herds, pigs at slaughter-house and free-living wild boar populations. Two-hundred and twenty sera and 150 liver tissue samples from domestic pigs, and 140 sera from wild boars were tested for HEV by ELISA and PCR-based approaches. All tested swine farms resulted seropositive with an overall rate of 46.8%. In turn, 22.1% of the wild boars had anti-HEV antibodies. HEV RNA was detected in 16.6% and 9.3% of liver samples from slaughter-age pigs and adult wild boars sera, respectively. Three strains from domestic pig were also amplified by nested-PCR approaches. By contrast, none of the positive samples obtained from wild boars could be confirmed by nested-PCR. Phylogenetic analysis revealed a very high nucleotide identity among swine strains and sequences obtained from humans in Uruguay. Results showed that HEV is widely distributed among swine herds in Uruguay. Additionally, this study evidences for the first time in the American continent that wild boar populations are a reservoir for HEV, though its zoonotic role remains to be elucidated. Altogether, data presented here suggest a high zoonotic risk of HEV transmission from swine to humans.

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          Author and article information

          Vet. Microbiol.
          Veterinary microbiology
          Elsevier BV
          Jan 2018
          : 213
          [1 ] Sección Virología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Iguá 4225, 11400, Montevideo, Uruguay. Electronic address:
          [2 ] Laboratório de Desenvolvimento Tecnológico, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Av. 4365, 21045900, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
          [3 ] Sección Virología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Iguá 4225, 11400, Montevideo, Uruguay.
          [4 ] Area de Salud Pública Veterinaria, Facultad de Veterinaria, Alberto Lasplaces 1550, 11600, Montevideo, Uruguay.
          [5 ] Area Suinos. Facultad de Veterinaria. Alberto Lasplaces 1550, 11600, Montevideo, Uruguay.
          [6 ] Instituto de Virología, CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. Enrique Barros- Ciudad Universitaria, 5000, Córdoba, Argentina.

          Wild boars, Domestic pig, Hepatitis E virus, Survey


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