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Seroepidemiology and molecular characterization of hepatitis E virus infection in swine and occupationally exposed workers in Punjab, India

Bansal, M., Kaur, S., Deka, D., Singh, R., Gill, J. P. S.
Zoonoses and public health 2017 v.64 no.8 pp. 662-672
at-risk population, blood, Orthohepevirus A, risk, immunoglobulin G, seroprevalence, hepatitis E, feces, genotype, occupational exposure, human population, slaughterhouses, humans, disease outbreaks, swine, serological surveys, sewage, farmers, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, RNA, India
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) has two discrete epidemiological patterns: waterborne epidemics in developing countries only, caused by HEV genotype I, and sporadic zoonotic outbreaks in developing and developed countries caused by genotypes III and IV. This study was designed to investigate seroprevalence, molecular detection and the characterization of HEV by nested RT‐PCR in swine as well as the occupational risk to exposed human population in Punjab state of north‐western India. The occupational risk‐exposed group comprised of swine farmers (organized – mixed feed feeders and unorganized – swill feeders), slaughterhouse workers, sewage workers and veterinary internes. During the study period, blood and faecal samples were collected from 320 swine and 360 humans with both high and low occupational exposure risks. The overall seroprevalence of swine HEV was 65.00%, with a significantly higher seropositivity in growing pigs (2–8 months of age). The prevalence of HEV RNA in swine faecal samples by nRT‐PCR was 8.75% with a significantly higher detection in swill‐fed pigs. With humans in the high occupational exposure risk population, significantly higher anti‐HEV IgG seropositivity was observed (60.48%) as compared to control population (10.71%). Strong evidence of association between human anti‐HEV IgG seropositivity and certain occupational exposure risk groups was observed (p < 0.05). This indicates that unorganized swine farmers, slaughterhouse workers and sewage workers have higher odds of HEV infection in this study region. Percentage of nucleotide similarity between swine and human HEV isolates was less than that found in countries with zoonotic HEV outbreaks. Molecular characterization revealed the circulation of G IV and G I genotypes among swine and human population in Punjab state, respectively.