Molecular and in vitro characterisation of hepatitis E virus from UK pigs.


Animal and Plant Health Agency, Department of Virology, Addlestone, Surrey, UK. Electronic address: [Email]


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is widespread in the global pig population. Although clinically inapparent in pigs, HEV infection is the cause of Hepatitis E in humans and transmission via the food chain has been established. Following a 2013 study that investigated prevalence of HEV infection in UK slaughter-age pigs samples indicating highest viral load were selected for further characterisation. High throughput sequencing was used to obtain the complete coding sequence from five samples. An in-frame insertion was observed within the HEV hypervariable region in two samples. To interrogate whether this mutation may be the cause of high-level viraemia and faecal shedding as observed in the sampled pigs virus isolation and culture was conducted. Based on viral growth kinetics there was no evidence that these insertions affected replication efficiency in vitro, suggesting as yet undetermined host factors may affect the course of infection and consequently the risk of foodborne transmission.


Complete coding sequence,Genotype 3,Hepatitis E virus,Pigs,UK,Virus isolates,