Main content area

Quantification and genetic diversity of Hepatitis E virus in wild boar (Sus scrofa) hunted for domestic consumption in Central Italy

Di Pasquale, Simona, De Santis, Paola, La Rosa, Giuseppina, Di Domenico, Kevin, Iaconelli, Marcello, Micarelli, Giuseppe, Martini, Enrica, Bilei, Stefano, De Medici, Dario, Suffredini, Elisabetta
Food microbiology 2019 v.82 pp. 194-201
Hepatitis E virus, Sus scrofa, deer, developed countries, emerging diseases, food production, genetic variation, genome, genotype, hepatitis E, immunoglobulin G, intestines, liver, seroprevalence, swine, viral load, wild boars, Italy
Hepatitis E is an emerging disease in industrialized countries. The food-borne transmission of hepatitis E virus (HEV) is associated principally with products derived from the domestic pig, the wild boar, and deer; however, few quantitative data are available on HEV loads in animals used in food production. This study assessed HEV occurrence, viral load and genetic variability in wild boar hunted for domestic consumption in the district of Viterbo (Central Italy) where high anti-HEV IgG seroprevalence values are reported in humans. A total of 332 liver and 69 intestine samples were obtained from wild boar hunted between 2011 and 2014. The liver tissue in 54 of the animals (16.3%) was HEV-positive. Viral loads in quantifiable liver samples (n = 29) ranged between 3.2 × 102 and 3.8 × 105 genome copies (g.c.)/g with a mean value of 1.85 × 104 g.c./g. A statistically significant positive correlation was found between viral concentration in liver and intestinal tissue, though mean viral load in the intestines was lower (3.13 × 103 g.c./g). Twenty-six samples were characterized molecularly as genotype 3 (G3) and four subtypes (a, c, f and l) were detected. Finally, twelve samples with near identical sequences were identified as G3 but could not be assigned to any of the known subtypes, and could therefore represent a potentially new subtype.