Prevalence, isolation, and partial sequence analysis of hepatitis E virus from domestic animals in China.J Med Virol. 2002 Aug; 67(4):516-21.JM
Evidence that hepatitis E is zoonotic is accumulating. Serum samples were collected from pigs, cattle, and goats from various regions of China to determine whether they had been infected with hepatitis E virus (HEV). An in-house enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) with primers from open reading frame (ORF) 2 were used to detect anti-HEV antibodies and HEV RNA. The mean positivity rates of anti-HEV antibody for pigs and cattle were 78.8% and 6.3% but none of the goat sera were positive. Pigs may be more susceptible to infection with HEV than cattle or goats. Five of 263 pig sera were positive for HEV RNA and four of these five were also positive for anti-HEV. The PCR products (nt 6007-6354) were cloned and sequenced and compared to other HEV sequences in the nucleotide databases. The five sequences shared 83-93% identity to each other at the nucleotide level and 74-79%, 73-74%, 73-78%, and 83-99% identity to HEV genotypes 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. They were closely related to human isolates of HEV genotype 4. Phylogenetic analyses also place these swine sequences in HEV genotype 4, resembling most closely viruses isolated from Chinese patients with acute hepatitis. These data support the hypothesis that sporadic hepatitis E in China is zoonotic.