Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Drastic decline of hepatitis E virus detection in domestic pigs after the age of 6 months, Corsica, France.

Abstract

Suidae is an important reservoir of hepatitis E virus (HEV) and a source of transmission to humans (direct contact or via consumption of meat products). Our goal was to characterize the epidemiology of HEV infecting domestic pigs in Corsica Island, a French region hyperendemic for HEV. In Corsica, traditional extensive (or semi-extensive) outdoor pig farming system is common. Sixteen farms were selected according to location and breeding system. Individual pig faeces samples were collected and qRT-PCR for detecting HEV RNA was performed. Nucleic acids from HEV-positive samples were amplified using specific ORF2 genotyping system. The genotype and subtype of the Corsican HEV sequences were determined by phylogenetic analysis. Among the 919 porcine faeces samples tested 9.2% (n=85) were positive. The presence of viral RNA was correlated with (a) age (>6 months) Adjusted Odd Ratio (AOR) 0.25 [0.068-0.90] p=.032; 3-4 months AOR=4.94 [2.30-10.62] (p=.000043) with the logistic regression model with a random effect at the farm level. Among the 85 positive samples, 83 belonged to genotype 3c and two to genotype 3f. The highest prevalence was observed in the 3-4 months age group and older age (>6 months) was negatively related to HEV infection and this suggests that traditional breeding with a late slaughter age may limit the risk of transmission to humans. A kinetic study of pigs from birth to slaughtering would allow to ensure that the type of traditional breeding reported here is very favourable to the absence of the virus in slaughtered pigs and in pork products.