Geographical restriction of Hepatitis E virus circulation in wild boars (Sus scrofa) in Emilia-Romagna region, Northern Italy

  • Silvia Bonardi | silvia.bonardi@unipr.it Department of Veterinary Science, Unit of Food Inspection, University of Parma, Italy. http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3079-9290
  • Virginia Filipello Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia-Romagna (IZSLER), Section of Brescia, Italy.
  • Enrico Pavoni Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia-Romagna (IZSLER), Section of Brescia, Italy.
  • Valentina Carta Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia-Romagna (IZSLER), Section of Brescia, Italy.
  • Luca Bolzoni Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia-Romagna (IZSLER), Risk Analysis and Genomic Epidemiology Unit, Parma, Italy.
  • Margherita Corradi Management Body for Parks and Biodiversity “Emilia Occidentale”, Sala Baganza, Italy.
  • Stefano Gilioli Management Body for Parks and Biodiversity “Emilia Occidentale”, Sala Baganza, Italy.
  • Marina Nadia Losio Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia-Romagna (IZSLER), Section of Brescia, Italy.

Abstract

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a singlestrand RNA virus that causes an acute viral hepatitis in humans. Among its eight recognized genotypes, HEV-3 and HEV-4 are zoonotic, infecting humans, pigs and wild boars. Recently, HEV-3 has been also detected in red deer, which represents another reservoir of HEV. Consumption of raw pork products (mainly liver sausages), undercooked wild boar meat, raw wild boar liver and deer meat has been responsible for foodborne HEV human worldwide. From November 2018 to March 2019, liver samples collected from 97 wild boars hunted in Emilia-Romagna region (Northern Italy) were tested for HEV RNA. The hunting area included two territories for an extension of 33 km2, named A (about 13 km2, natural park, deciduous wood) and B (about 20 km2, cultivated fields in proximity of a river) areas. Distance between the two areas ranged between 8 to 10 km. A total of 73 wild boars were hunted in area A, and 24 in area B. HEV RNA was detected by Realtime RT–PCR in 23/73 liver samples of wild boars living in area A only (31.5% - 95% CI: 22.0-42.8%). The HEV sequences (n=13) clustered within genotype 3. The majority of positives belonged to animals < 12 months (12/25; 48%), followed by subadults (13-24 months) (7/16; 43.8%) and adults (4/32; 12.5%). This difference was found to be statistically significant (p=0.0024). In absence of pig farms, the restriction of HEV-positive animals to a well-defined territory of 13 km2 (Boschi di Carrega Regional Park) could hypothetically be related to the presence of red deer (Cervus elaphus), which lived in area A at the beginning of the hunting season. Further studies are needed to confirm or deny our hypothesis.

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Published
2020-04-06
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Original Articles
Keywords:
Hepatitis E virus, Wild boars, Italy
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How to Cite
Bonardi, S., Filipello, V., Pavoni, E., Carta, V., Bolzoni, L., Corradi, M., Gilioli, S., & Losio, M. (2020). Geographical restriction of Hepatitis E virus circulation in wild boars (Sus scrofa) in Emilia-Romagna region, Northern Italy. Italian Journal of Food Safety, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.4081/ijfs.2020.8463