Molecular detection of hepatitis E virus in German domestic pigs

Baechlein, Christine; Seehusen, Frauke; Nathues, Heiko; grosse Beilage, Elisabeth; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Grummer, Beatrice (2013). Molecular detection of hepatitis E virus in German domestic pigs. Berliner und Münchener tierärztliche Wochenschrift, 126(1-2), pp. 25-31. Schlütersche 10.2376/0005-9366-126-25

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In industrial countries, Hepatitis E virus (HEV) transmission to humans is predominantly assumed to be a zoonotic infection. Recently, it has been demonstrated that about 50% of domestic pigs in Germany carry HEV-specific antibodies. However, further investigations concerning the distribution of HEV in different age groups of German domestic pigs, phylogenetic analyses and the viral load in the porcine liver are still pending. Liver samples of all age groups from herds in a pig-dense region in north-western Germany were investigated for the presence and quantity of HEV RNA and subsequently genotyped. Out of 251 liver samples, 34 contained ORF2-specific RNA, whereas 19 samples were positive using ORF1-specific primers, resulting in an overall detection rate of 13.5% and 7.6%, respectively. Especially nursery pigs and growers were tested positive for viral RNA. Furthermore, determination of the HEV copy numbers revealed high replication levels. Up to 10(9) genome copies per g of liver tissue could be detected suggesting a likely high degree of viral spread to the environment. In the HEV-positive liver samples we found no hints for pathohistological changes reflecting the HEV status.The HEV sequences showed marked diversity but could be assigned to HEV genotype 3 without exception. However, by comparing two different genomic fragments, we found indications for infections with two different HEV variants in domestic pigs. Apart from this, the current study confirms the outcome of our recent serological HEV survey and for the first time gives direct proof of HEV infections in the German domestic pig population.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Research Foci > Veterinary Public Health / Herd Health Management
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV) > Swine Clinic
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV)

UniBE Contributor:

Nathues, Heiko


600 Technology > 630 Agriculture








Susanne Portner

Date Deposited:

25 Jul 2014 16:47

Last Modified:

26 Feb 2015 07:58

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

HEV, zoonosis, phylogeny, histology


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