Hepatitis E virus has recently been recognized as having zoonotic potential and could be transmitted from pig to human. Pigs are identified as a potential animal reservoir and HEV is highly prevalent in the swine population around the world. In this study, the presence of HEV was investigated in 51 subjects reared on a simulated commercial farm setting from the age of 2 weeks up to slaughter. Samples were collected on four occasions: at 2, 8, and 18 weeks and between 22-29 weeks of age. Anti-HEV IgG in plasma samples, presence of HEV RNA in plasma samples and feces were monitored. At 2 weeks of age, HEV RNA was detected in feces of 6 subjects (11.8%) but not in their plasma. At 8 weeks, HEV was detected in feces of 27 subjects (52.9%) and in plasma of one subject. At 18 weeks, HEV was detected in feces of 44 subjects (86.2%) and in plasma of 24 subjects (47.1%). At slaughter time (22-29 weeks), HEV was present in plasma of 6 subjects (11.8%) and in stools of 21 subjects (41.2%). Spread of the virus inside the population was evaluated by comparison of means (paired t-test, P < 0.05) of anti-HEV IgG ELISA results from the 4 bleedings. Significant differences were noted between the results of populations at 8 and 18 weeks and also between 18 and 22 to 29 weeks indicating an immune response to the virus. Based on the comparison of a 304 nucleotides sequence of the 5′ ORF 2 gene, all amplified fragments clustered in genotype 3a. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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