Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is one of a common cause of acute, fecally transmitted hepatitis in developing countries. Identification of HEV in indigenous human infection and in domestic pig raises the possibility that HEV infection is also a zoonosis.
Molecular detection and epidemiology of HEV in humans with acute hepatitis and in domestic (pig, cattle) and wild (boar and roe-deer) animals by ELISA and RT-PCR in Hungary.
Between 2001 and 2006, a total of 116 (9.6%) human sera were positive by HEV IgM ELISA and 13 (24.5%) of 53 samples were also confirmed by RT-PCR and sequencing. Forty-two, 11 and 9 samples were RT-PCR-positive from swine (feces: 22.7%; liver: 30.8%), roe-deer (liver: 34.4%) and wild boar (liver: 12.2%), respectively. Except for an imported infection caused by genotype 1, 19 sequences (human: 12, swine: 4, roe-deer: 1, wild boar: 2) belong to genotype 3 HEV. Genetically identical strains were detected in human and roe-deer and in 2 other human clusters.
HEV is an endemic agent in Hungary. Consumption of raw or undercooked meat-products is one of the possible sources of the indigenous HEV infections. Cross-species infection with genotype 3 HEV involves a food-borne transmission route in Hungary.