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Swine Hepatitis E Virus Contamination
in Hog Operation Waste Streams--
An Emerging Infection?

Yuory V. Karetnyi1, Nelson Moyer2, Mary J.R. Gilchrist3, and
Stanley J. Naides4

Swine Hepatitis E Virus (sHEV) is a recently discovered virus endemic to Midwest hog herds. The proposed zoonotic nature of Asian strains of human HEV (hHEV) and the recent discovery of a clade of human HEV in the United States, with approximately 98% DNA and protein sequence homologies to sHEV, suggest the hypothesis that swine herds are a potential animal reservoir for hHEV. In order to determine whether sHEV is a potential environmental contaminant, we tested water samples collected downstream from hog-farm operations for sHEV by nested reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction amplification (RT-PCR). Thirty-three samples including pit slurries, lagoon influents, lagoons, tile inlets, drainage ditches, tile outlets, a draining creek, and a monitoring well were tested by RT-PCR. Three samples (9%) were positive, including two from waste lagoons and one from a tile outlet draining a field to which manure had been applied. Each sample was collected on a separate farm, two in Iowa and one in Missouri. We next identified three sHEV RT-PCR positive hog-stool samples out of 20 tested from a single Iowa farm. All three positive stools came from 3-month-old hogs. sHEV was confirmed by partial sequencing of RT-PCR amplicon. In order to model the duration of sHEV in the environment, 1% and 10% suspensions of sHEV positive stool were stored in water and phosphate buffered saline, respectively, at -85C, 4C, and room temperature. sHEV was detectable by RT-PCR under all conditions at 2 weeks of storage, the longest period tested to date. Therefore, sHEV is present in downstream water waste from hog-farming operations. sHEV may persist in the environment for at least 2 weeks and possibly longer.

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1Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, and the Helen C. Levitt Center for Viral Pathogenesis and Disease, University of Iowa; VA Medical Center; and the University Hygienic Laboratory, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 (yuory-karetnyi@viowa.edu)

2Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, and the Helen C. Levitt Center for Viral Pathogenesis and Disease, University of Iowa; VA Medical Center; and the University Hygienic Laboratory, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242

3Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, and the Helen C. Levitt Center for Viral Pathogenesis and Disease, University of Iowa; VA Medical Center; and the University Hygienic Laboratory, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242

4Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, and the Helen C. Levitt Center for Viral Pathogenesis and Disease, University of Iowa; VA Medical Center; and the University Hygienic Laboratory, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 (Stanley_naides@viowa.edu)


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