The objective of this study was to examine the prevalence of Hepatitis E virus (HEV) in the Danish pig population. Faecal samples from 97 pigs, 1–5 months of age were analysed for HEV RNA by a new PriProET real time RT-PCR assay. In addition, serum samples from 71 sow herds were screened for the presence of anti-HEV IgG antibodies by ELISA. The genotype of the detected HEV positive samples was estimated based on the melting temperature obtained by the PriProET real time RT-PCR assay. The HEV prevalence of faecal samples was 55.0% and 49.5% for herds and animals, respectively. A HEV IgG prevalence of 91.5% was found for the sow herds which correspond to 73.2% of the sows. The PriProET assay indicated that all HEV positive samples belonged to genotype 3 or 4, which is consistent with the observation of genotype 3 as dominant in European pigs. This is the first study showing that HEV is highly prevalent in the Danish pig population. The abundant presence of HEV in Danish pigs and the known high similarity between HEV isolates from pigs and humans support previous reports indicating possible zoonotic transmission of HEV.
- Hepatitis E virus