L'epatite E nei suidi: epidemiologia, diagnosi e filogenesi

Martelli, Francesca (2008) L'epatite E nei suidi: epidemiologia, diagnosi e filogenesi, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Epidemiologia e controllo delle zoonosi, 20 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/818.
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Hepatitis E is an infectious viral disease with clinical and morphological features of acute hepatitis. The aetiological agent is the Hepatitis E virus (HEV). The disease represents an important Public Health problem in developing countries where is frequently epidemic and primarily transmitted by fecal-oral route. In the last few years, a certain number of sporadic cases have been also described in industrialized countries, Italy included. A swine HEV was first identified in 1997 and is now considered an ubiquitous virus. Human and swine strains from the same geographical region have shown to have a high level of nucleotidic omology and in experimental infections, the possibility of interspecific transmission of swine strains to humans and of human strains to non-human primates has been demonstrated. Furthermore, some seroepidemiological studies have demonstrated that people working in contact with swine have a higher risk to get infected than normal blood donors. Recently, cases of HEV hepatitis have been directly associated to the ingestion of uncooked tissues from pigs, wild boar or deer and today the disease is considered an emerging zoonosis. The aims of this thesis were: evaluate HEV prevalence in Italian swine herds (both in fattening and in breeding animals); investigate the possibility of finding HEV in livers used for human consumption; investigate if there is any correlation between HEV infection and the presence of macroscopical lesions; investigate HEV prevalence in a demographic managed wild boar population; phylogenetically analyse viral strains identified. During an internship period at Veterinary Laboratories Agency (Weybridge, UK), furthermore, swine samples at different stages of production and slurry lagoons have been analysed. Six swine herds located in North Italy have been sampled at different stage of production. The overall prevalence resulted 42%, and both breeding and fattening animals were positive for HEV infection. A longitudinal study has been conducted in a herd across all stages of production until the slaughtering age. Livers have been collected from the animals at the abattoir and 11.8% of them were positive for HEV infection. No correlations have been identified between HEV infection and macroscopical lesions in pigs affected by different pathological conditions. Of 86 wild boars tested 22 (25%) were positive for HEV. Of the swine tested in UK 21,5 % and 2 of the 9 slurry lagoons (22,2%) were positive for HEV infection. All the strains identified belonged to genotype 3 and showed high percentages of nucleotidic identity with humans and swine strains identified in Europe. The high prevalence detected in these studies confirms the widespread diffusion of HEV in swine populations in Italy and in UK. Phylogenetical analysis of identified strains, similar to those identified in autochthonous human hepatitis E cases of the same geographical area, confirm the hypothesis that pigs can be a font of zoonotical infection. The finding that a fraction of the livers inserted in the food chain are positive for HEV infection it’s of some concern for Public Health. The finding of a high HEV prevalence in all examined farms, together with the observation that infection may be sub-clinical and affect animals at slaughtering age, raise concern because of the possible risk of transmission of HEV to humans by either direct contact with infected pigs, indirect contact with environment and working instruments contaminated with pig feces, or ingestion of contaminated undercooked meat.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Martelli, Francesca
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
epatite e suidi zoonosi
Data di discussione
7 Maggio 2008

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