Prevalence of hepatitis E virus in wild boar populations of Austria, Hungary and Serbia
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Zoonotic foodborne diseases have the potential to infect humans through consumption of infected animal origin products. The occurrence, infectivity, pathogenicity and overall risk of these diseases are closely linked to both human and animal health. Hepatitis E Virus is an RNA virus of the Hepeviridae family. The virus species that has veterinary public health importance is named Orthohepevirus A and consists of 8 genotypes, all of the same serotype. Hepatitis E is considered an emerging zoonotic disease, occurring worldwide in a variety of hosts, including, among others, humans, swine, deer and rabbit/hare. In humans, the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, as well as different extrahepatic manifestations. Large waterborne epidemics are seen in developing countries, while in the developed world the disease is sporadic, and mainly due to foodborne infection caused by genotype 3 and 4 viruses. Among other animal species, wild boars serve as a reservoir for the virus, and can both spread and infect domesticated pig herds, as well as pose a direct risk of human infection by the consumption of wild game. The aims of this study was to investigate and compare the prevalence of HEV infection and find evidence of the epidemiological connections between wild boar populations in Austria, Hungary and Serbia. Altogether 482 tissue and sera samples were collected (48 from Austria, 382 from Hungary and 63 from Serbia). The samples were subjected to ELISA testing and NA investigations by RT-PCR and qRT-PCR.