Genetic diversity of hepatitis E virus (HEV) strains derived from humans, swine and wild boars in Croatia from 2010 to 2017

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Abstract

Background: To fulfill epidemiological data and investigate possible interspecies transmission, this study shall attempt to sequence representative HEV strains of human, swine and wild boar origin collected from 2010 to 2017 in Croatia. Methods: In total, 174 anti-HEV antibody positive human sera samples; 1419 blood or faeces samples of swine, as well as 720 tissue and/or blood samples of wild boar originating from different counties (18 in total) in Croatia were tested for the presence of HEV RNA. Results: HEV RNA was detected in 26 human sera samples (14.9%; 95% CI 10.4-21.0%). HEV RNA was detected in 216 tested swine (15.2%; 95% CI 13.5-17.1%), regardless of age, farm breeding system or geographical origin. Viral RNA was also detectable in faeces samples which prove that swine actively participate in shedding HEV into the environment. Of the total of 720 tested wild boar samples, 83 were HEV RNA positive (11.5, 95% CI 9.4-14.1%) originating from six counties. According to the sequence analysis all strains have shown to be members of Orthohepevirus A genotype HEV-3, regardless of host. The genotyping results confirm grouping of sequences into four subtypes of HEV strains of which subtypes 3a and 3c belong to the general cluster 3abchij, and were predominately detected during the study, while subtypes 3e and 3f fall within cluster 3efg. Strains within subtypes 3a and 3e were found in humans, swine and wild boars; subtype 3c strains were derived from humans and swine, whereas subtype 3f strains were found only in humans. Strains belonging to subtypes 3a and 3c were derived during the entire investigated period and may be considered endemic in Croatia, whereas strains within subtypes 3e and 3f were detected sporadically indicating the possibility of newly imported infections. Conclusions: All detected strains show to be genetically highly related to strains found in humans and/or animals from other European Countries, indicating that trade of live animals or wild boar movement increases the risk of HEV infection spread. Furthermore, homologous strains found in different investigated species within this study indicate interspecies transmission of HEV and/or an existence of an accessible mutual source of infection.

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Jemeršić, L., Prpić, J., Brnić, D., Keros, T., Pandak, N., & Đaković Rode, O. (2019). Genetic diversity of hepatitis E virus (HEV) strains derived from humans, swine and wild boars in Croatia from 2010 to 2017. BMC Infectious Diseases, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-019-3906-6

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