Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a member of the genus Hepevirus within the family Hepeviridae. Hepatitis E is recognized as a zoonosis, and swine and wild boars (Sus scrofa) are known reservoirs of HEV infection. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of HEV in wild boars and hunters exposed to infection in central Italy (Latium region). During the hunting season, blood samples were collected from 228 wild boars and 20 hunters. The seroprevalence of HEV infection was determined using a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, previously validated for use in man, pigs and wild boars. The estimated HEV seroprevalence in wild boars and in hunters was 40.7% (93/228; 95% confidence interval [CI] 34.4-47.1%) and 25% (5/20; 95% CI 6.1-43.9%), respectively. Liver samples were collected from the boars and HEV RNA was detected by nested reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Fifty-five of 164 tested wild boar liver samples (33.5%; 95% CI 26.2-40.7%) and three of 20 (15.0%; 95% CI 1.3-28.7%) tested human serum samples were positive for HEV RNA. Phylogenetic analysis of the nucleotide sequences obtained from PCR products indicated that the HEV strains present in wild boars and the human population all belonged to genotype 3, supporting the zoonotic role of wild boars in the spread of HEV infection.
- European wild boar
- Hepatitis E virus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine