Molecular survey of HEV infection in wild boar population in Italy

Luca De Sabato, Fabio Ostanello, Luigi De Grossi, Anita Marcario, Barbara Franzetti, Marina Monini, Ilaria Di Bartolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an RNA virus causing an acute generally self-limited disease in humans. An increasing number of autochthonous cases linked to zoonotic transmission of HEV genotype 3 have been reported over the last 10 years in Europe. Pigs and wild boars are considered the main reservoirs. The principal route of transmission in Europe is food-borne, linked by direct or indirect evidence to the consumption of raw or undercooked pork products and wild boar meat. In this study, we sampled 92 wild boar (Sus scrofa) livers during active surveillance in five municipalities in Central Italy throughout the hunting season 2016–2017. HEV RNA was detected in 52.2% of liver sampled with prevalence ranging from 0.0% to 65.7%. HEV-positive wild boars were detected in all but one area of hunting. Phylogenetic analysis showed that strains clustered within the two subtypes HEV-3c and HEV-3f and displayed a wide range of phylogenetic diversity. Several strains were circulating in the areas investigated; animals possibly belonging to the same family group hunted by the same team were infected with a unique strain (100% nucleotide identity). As wild animals are a proven source of HEV transmission to humans and pigs, the high prevalence observed (mean 52.2%) poses a question on the risk of consuming raw or undercooked wild boar meat, and thus, this subject deserves further investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1749-1756
Number of pages8
JournalTransboundary and Emerging Diseases
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018


  • genotype 3
  • hepatitis E virus
  • Italy
  • ngs
  • subtype
  • wild boar
  • zoonosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)


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