Detection and molecular characterisation of swine Hepatitis E virus in Brescia province, Italy

Submitted: 17 July 2014
Accepted: 20 December 2014
Published: 28 May 2015
Abstract Views: 2256
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Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an important public health concern in many developing countries and it occurs in sporadic forms in industrialized areas. With the discovery of swine HEV in pigs, which is genetically closely related to human HEV, hepatitis E is considered to be a zoonotic disease. To investigate the circulation of HEV within a distinct area of Lombardy region (Northern Italy), 17 pig farms were subjected to monitoring study by collection of fresh stool samples each represented by ground-pooled specimens. In particular, three distinct types of breeding farms were focused, represented by farrow to weaning, farrow to finish and fattening farms, respectively. Epidemiological data confirm that in Europe the seroprevalence in pigs, more than 9 month of age, ranges from 51.4 to 75%, while in 3-9 months fatteners is about 38%. In France and Italy, the positivity among farms is respectively 30 and 97.4% and the seroprevalence in Italy is 50.2%. Since HEV viremia was typically observed in the early period of life in swine, faeces were collected in boxes containing weaning pigs. For the study, 183 stool samples were collected and amplifications were performed with universal primers specific for the ORF2 region of genome. Twentyeight samples resulted positive to HEV RNA and genotyping demonstrated that they were closely related to HEV strains belonging to genotype 3 and circulating in Europe. Comparison with reference strains from GenBank excluded their similarity to genotype 1, 2 or 4 confirming that genotype 3 strains are circulating in Europe. Since it was demonstrated that swine act as a reservoir for HEV, and since many strains into HEV genotype 3 share a strong molecular similarity to human HEV, it was important to detect the presence of HEV in a restricted area with a very high density of pigs.



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How to Cite

Pavoni E, Barbieri I, Bertasi B, Lombardi G, Cordioli P, Losio MN. Detection and molecular characterisation of swine Hepatitis E virus in Brescia province, Italy. Ital J Food Safety [Internet]. 2015 May 28 [cited 2024 Jul. 13];4(2). Available from: