High Prevalence of Hepatitis E Found in Pigs in Philippines

PHILIPPINES - New research highlights the potential risk of pigs as a source of hepatitis E infection in local residents.
calendar icon 5 February 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

Researchers found a high prevalence of hepatitis E virus (HEV) antibodies in the household-raised pig population in rural areas of the Philippines.

This indicates the potential risk of HEV infection among local residents, concluded lead author, Hitoshi Oshitani of Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan and co-authors. Only genotype 3 of HEV was observed, and genetically diverse strains of HEV were found to be circulating in pigs in this study.

HEV infection is a significant public health concern in Asia, they explain in their paper in BMC Veterinary Research, and pigs are an important source of sporadic HEV infection in humans.

However, there had been no epidemiological data available regarding HEV infection among the swine or human population in the Philippines until their study.

To assess the HEV infection status among pigs in rural areas, they investigated the molecular characteristics and seroprevalence of HEV among household-raised pigs in San Jose in Tarlac Province.

Their ELISA assay revealed that 50 per cent of pigs tested positive for anti-HEV IgG and 23 per cent for anti-HEV IgM.

HEV RNA was detected in the faeces of 22 pigs (7.4 per cent).

A total of 103 households (66 per cent) had at least one pig that tested positive for anti-HEV IgG or IgM or HEV RNA.

The prevalence of anti-HEV IgG and IgM in breeding pigs (aged between eight and 24 months) were higher than that in growing pigs (between two and four months of age).

HEV RNA was more detected more frequently in the younger pigs (9.2 per cent) than those five months or older (4.8 per cent); the difference was not staitstically significant.

The majority of detected viruses (91 per cent) belonged to subtype 3a.


Liu X., M. Saito, Y. Sayama, E. Suzuki, F.F. Malbas Jr., H.O. Galang, Y. Furuse, M. Saito. T. Li, A. Suzuki and H. Oshitani. 2015. Seroprevalence and molecular characteristics of hepatitis E virus in household-raised pig population in the Philippines. BMC Veterinary Research. 11:11.

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