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Hepatitis E Virus Infections in Swine and Swine Handlers in Vellore, Southern India

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  • Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) in industrialized countries is zoonotically transmitted, and swine act as a major reservoir of HEV. Serum samples from 102 swine and plasma from 34 swine handlers in Vellore, India were tested by using a reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction to detect and genotype HEV. We measured levels of IgG against HEV in swine handlers and in age and geographically matched controls from rural and urban populations in Vellore. HEV was amplified from two pigs and both viruses belonged to genotype 4. No HEV RNA was amplified from any swine handler, but 94.1% of swine handlers were positive for antibodies against HEV, a seroprevalence rate significantly higher than in rural and urban controls. The HEV genotype circulating in swine in India is different from that of humans, but the higher antibody levels in swine handlers support the possibility that zoonotic infections may occur.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Gagandeep Kang, Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences, Christian Medical College, Vellore 632004, India. E-mail: gkang@cmcvellore.ac.in

Authors' addresses: Rosario Vivek and Gagandeep Kang, Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences, Christian Medical College, Vellore 632004, India, E-mails: vivekm@cmcvellore.ac.in and gkang@cmcvellore.ac.in.

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