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Hepatitis E Seroprevalence in a large cohort of wild boar in southern Germany
In the last few years it has been realized that the Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is endemic in most industrialized countries and that it is a zoonotic disease. Potential reservoirs for HEV have been identified to be wild boars and dears, but also in goats and pigs HEV has been found. Antibody prevalence has been identified in up to 16% in the German population with increasing rates with age. Due to the probable spread of the virus via the stool and the meat of the infected animals, life-time risk for HEV exposure is high.
We collected blood from 104 wild boars in southern Germany and the border region of Alsace. This is one of the largest cohorts examined. We found a seroprevalence of antibodies in our cohort of 15.9%. Furthermore, we observed active infection in 5.2% of the animals by positive HEV PCR in the sera of the boars. So wild boars are a natural source to acquire HEV in southern Germany and the rate of infected animals is quite high. In our cohort no regional differences of seroprevalence or active infection was seen.