Evidence for the presence of hepatitis E virus in pigs in the United Kingdom
- M. Banks, PhD1,
- G. S. Heath, BSc1,
- S. S. Grierson, BSc1,
- D. P. King, PhD1,
- A. Gresham, MA, VetMB, CertPM, MRCVS2,
- R. Girones, PhD3,
- F. Widen, DVM, PhD4 and
- T. J. Harrison, DSc, FRCPath5
- 1 Veterinary Laboratories Agency, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB
- 2 Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Rougham Hill, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 2RX
- 3 Department of Microbiology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, E-08028, Spain
- 4 National Veterinary Institute, Uppsala, Sweden
- 5 Centre for Hepatology, Royal Free and University College Medical School, University College London, London NW3 2PF
Samples of serum, tissue and faeces from two pig herds in England were examined for hepatitis E virus by reverse-transcriptase PCR (RT-PcR), and a virus strain from each herd was partially sequenced. Eleven of 42 faecal samples and 16 of 21 tissue samples from two pigs were positive for the virus by RT-PCR. Analysis of two unique but closely related nucleotide sequences obtained from the two herds showed that the viruses clustered in genotype III (6) with a human strain of the virus from an autochthonously acquired case of acute hepatitis in the uK. An ELISA based on recombinant open reading frame 2 (ORF-2) was used to detect antibodies to hepatitis E virus in 256 pig sera from the uK; 85-5 per cent of the samples were positive, compared with 58 per cent of similar samples from Swedish pigs and 23-5 per cent of samples from Dutch pigs.
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