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Molecular and Serological Epidemiology of Swine Hepatitis E Virus from Pigs in Two Countries
Cooper, Kerri Lee
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Hepatitis E virus (HEV), the causative agent of hepatitis E, is endemic in many developing countries. However, sporadic cases of acute hepatitis E have also been reported in industrialized countries including the United States. Increasing evidence suggested that hepatitis E is zoonotic. Swine HEV was discovered in 1997 from a pig in the United States and has the ability to cross species barrier and infect humans. There are four major genotypes of HEV worldwide and swine HEV identified to date in different countries belongs to either genotypes 3 or 4. Thus far, genotypes 1 (Asian strains) and 2 (a single Mexican strain) of HEV are exclusively found in humans. To determine if genotypes 1 and 2 of HEV also exist in pigs we tested serum and/or fecal samples for from pigs of different age groups in Thailand, and from pigs 2-4 months-of-age in two states (Sonora, Sinaloa) in Mexico. A universal RT-PCR was first standardized to detect all 4 different genotypes of HEV. Swine HEV RNA was detected from in 10/26 pigs at 2-4 months-of-age but not in pigs of 1-, 6-month old, adult/sow pigs from Thailand. In Mexico, swine HEV RNA was detected in 8 of 125 serum samples, 28 of 92 fecal samples of 2-4 month-old pigs. Antibodies to swine HEV were detected in 101 of 125 (80.8%) Mexican pigs. A total of 44 swine HEV isolates were amplified and sequenced for the ORF2 capsid gene region. Sequence analyses revealed that all the swine HEV isolates identified from pigs in Thailand and Mexico belong to genotype 3. Overall, the Mexican swine HEV isolates shared 89-100% sequence identity to each other, and about 89-92% identity with the prototype genotype 3 US swine HEV. The Thailand swine HEV isolates displayed 97-100% nucleotide sequence identity with each other, and 90-91% identity with the prototype genotype 3 swine HEV. Phylogenic analysis revealed that minor branches do exist among Mexican swine HEV isolates. The results from this study indicated that genotype 1 or 2 swine HEV does not exist in pig from countries where human genotypes 1 and 2 HEVs are prevalent.
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