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Detection of Hepatitis E Virus in Shellfish Harvesting Areas from Galicia (Northwestern Spain)

Departamento de Microbiología y Parasitología, CIBUS-Facultad de Biología, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS), Universidade do Porto, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal
Epidemiology Research Unit (EPIUnit), Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto, 4050-600 Porto, Portugal
Laboratório de Microbiologia, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Faculdade de Farmácia, Universidade do Porto, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Viruses 2019, 11(7), 618;
Received: 11 June 2019 / Revised: 1 July 2019 / Accepted: 3 July 2019 / Published: 5 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Viruses)
PDF [2779 KB, uploaded 5 July 2019]


The hepatitis E virus (HEV) affects almost 20 million individuals annually, causing approximately 3.3 million acute liver injuries, 56,600 deaths, and huge healthcare-associated economic losses. Shellfish produced close to urban and livestock areas can bioaccumulate this virus and transmit it to the human population. The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of HEV in molluscan shellfish, in order to deepen the knowledge about HEV prevalence in Galicia (northwestern Spain), and to investigate this as a possible route of HEV transmission to humans. A total of 168 shellfish samples was obtained from two different Galician rías (Ría de Ares-Betanzos and Ría de Vigo). The samples were analyzed by reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). RT-nested PCR and sequencing were used for further genotyping and phylogenetic analysis of positive samples. HEV was detected in 41 (24.4%) samples, at quantification levels ranging from non-quantifiable (<102 copies of the RNA genome (RNAc)/g tissue) to 1.1 × 105 RNAc/g tissue. Phylogenetic analysis based on the open reading frame (ORF)2 region showed that all sequenced isolates belonged to genotype 3, and were closely related to strains of sub-genotype e, which is of swine origin. The obtained results demonstrate a significant prevalence of HEV in bivalve molluscs from Galician rías, reinforcing the hypothesis that shellfish may be a potential route for HEV transmission to humans. View Full-Text
Keywords: hepatitis E virus; shellfish; detection; genotyping; food safety hepatitis E virus; shellfish; detection; genotyping; food safety

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Rivadulla, E.; Varela, M.F.; Mesquita, J.R.; Nascimento, M.S.; Romalde, J.L. Detection of Hepatitis E Virus in Shellfish Harvesting Areas from Galicia (Northwestern Spain). Viruses 2019, 11, 618.

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