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Screening of Ready-to-Eat Meat Products for Hepatitis E Virus in Switzerland

Moor, Dominik, Liniger, Marianne, Baumgartner, Andreas, Felleisen, Richard
Food and environmental virology 2018 v.10 no.3 pp. 263-271
Orthohepevirus A, pork, detection limit, seroprevalence, herds, genome, liver sausage, Encephalomyocarditis virus, swine, viruses, genotype, process control, viral load, raw meat, screening, retail marketing, ready-to-eat foods, Switzerland
Seroprevalence data for pig herds suggested that there must be a relevant reservoir for hepatitis E virus (HEV) in Switzerland. To know more about the viral presence in ready-to-eat meat products, we screened pork liver sausages and raw meat sausages from the Swiss retail market for the presence of HEV. Testing was performed with a detection method where the virus extraction step was optimized. As for the performance of the improved method, the mean recovery rate for the mengovirus process control was 24.4%, whereas for HEV-inoculated sample matrices between 10.4 and 100% were achieved. The limit of detection was about 1.56 × 10³ and 1.56 × 10² genome copies per gram for liver sausages and raw meat sausages, respectively. In the screening programme, HEV-RNA was detected in 10 of total 90 (11.1%) meat products, 7 of 37 (18.9%) liver sausages, and 3 of 53 (5.7%) raw meat sausages. Virus loads of up to 5.54 log₁₀ HEV genome copies per gram were measured. All sequences retrieved from positive samples belonged to HEV genotype 3. The significance of the presented work was a current overview of the HEV prevalence in ready-to-eat meat products on the Swiss retail marked and an improvement of the extraction efficiency of the HEV detection method.