In the present work, 262 serum samples and 29 faeces pools from chickens coming from 29 healthy flocks were analysed by RT-PCR for detection of avian HEV and by ELISA using an aHEV derived antigen for detection of anti-HEV IgG. Additionally, other 300 randomly selected serum samples were also analysed by RT-PCR. Seven serum samples were positive to RNA detection. Sequence analysis of both the helicase and the capsid genes revealed that the Spanish isolates were clustered together and close related to those strains from the United States isolated from farms with HSS. On the serology study, 26/29 flocks had at least one positive animal (89.7%) and chickens older than 40 weeks were found to have higher seropositivities compared to the rest of age groups. Within positive farms, the proportion of positive animals ranged from 20% to 80%. This is the first report of aHEV sequences in chickens from Europe. Further studies are needed to elucidate the clinical significance of avian HEV infections in Europe. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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