Detection of hepatitis E virus genotype 3 in an Algerian mouse (Mus spretus) in Portugal

Sérgio Santos-Silva, Danny Franciele da Silva Dias Moraes, Pedro López-López, Joana Paupério, João Queirós, António Rivero-Juarez, Laura Lux, Rainer G. Ulrich, Helena M.R. Gonçalves, Wim H.M. van der Poel, Maria S.J. Nascimento, João R. Mesquita*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Virus monitoring in small mammals is central to the design of epidemiological control strategies for rodent-borne zoonotic viruses. Synanthropic small mammals are versatile and may be potential carriers of several microbial agents. In the present work, a total of 330 fecal samples of small mammals were collected at two sites in the North of Portugal and screened for zoonotic hepatitis E virus (HEV, species Paslahepevirus balayani). Synanthropic small mammal samples (n = 40) were collected in a city park of Porto and belonged to the species Algerian mouse (Mus spretus) (n = 26) and to the greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula) (n = 14). Furthermore, additional samples were collected in the Northeast region of Portugal and included Algerian mouse (n = 48), greater white-toothed shrew (n = 47), wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) (n = 43), southwestern water vole (Arvicola sapidus) (n = 52), Cabrera’s vole (Microtus cabrerae) (n = 49) and Lusitanian pine vole (Microtus lusitanicus) (n = 51). A nested RT-PCR targeting a part of open reading frame (ORF) 2 region of the HEV genome was used followed by sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. HEV RNA was detected in one fecal sample (0.3%; 95% confidence interval, CI: 0.01–1.68) from a synanthropic Algerian mouse that was genotyped as HEV-3, subgenotype 3e. This is the first study reporting the detection of HEV-3 in a synanthropic rodent, the Algerian mouse. The identified HEV isolate is probably the outcome of either a spill-over infection from domestic pigs or wild boars, or the result of passive viral transit through the intestinal tract. This finding reinforces the importance in the surveillance of novel potential hosts for HEV with a particular emphasis on synanthropic animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1803-1812
JournalVeterinary Research Communications
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • HEV reservoir
  • One health
  • Rodent
  • Wildlife
  • Zoonosis


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