Prevalence of hepatitis E virus antibodies in Canadian swine herds and identification of a novel variant of swine hepatitis E virus

D. Yoo, P. Willson, Y. Pei, M. A. Hayes, A. Deckert, C. E. Dewey, R. M. Friendship, Y. Yoon, M. Gottschalk, C. Yason, A. Giulivi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Swine hepatitis E virus is a newly identified potentially zoonotic virus from pigs of particular concern for possible direct transmission to a human xenotransplant recipient by organ transplantation. In the present study, prevalence of serum antibodies to hepatitis E virus was examined in Canadian swine herds. A total of 998 serum samples collected from 6-month-old healthy slaughter hogs were examined by enzyme immunoassay and Western blot analysis for antibodies to the recombinant open reading frame 3 (ORF3) protein of hepatitis E virus expressed in Escherichia coli. These samples represented more than 80 different swine production units from five major swine-producing provinces across Canada. From this study, 594 samples (59.4%) were found to be positive for hepatitis E virus antibody. The seroprevalence was higher in Quebec (88.8%) and Ontario (80.1%) than in Alberta and Saskatchewan (38.3%). By PCR using a pair of oligonucleotide primers deduced from the ORF2 sequence of human hepatitis E virus, a specific hepatitis E virus sequence was recovered from feces of pigs. The nucleotide sequence identity between the U.S. swine hepatitis E virus and the Canadian isolate (SK3) was only 85.8%, suggesting that genotypic variations may exist in swine hepatitis E virus in North America. Among 165 serum samples collected from humans in Saskatchewan, 2.4% were found to be positive for antibodies to the hepatitis E virus ORF3 protein. Our data indicate that hepatitis E virus is highly prevalent in commercial swine populations in Canada and support the suggestion that the swine hepatitis E virus may be an important zoonotic agent for humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1213-1219
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (medical)


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