Estimation of the Likelihood of Fecal-Oral HEV Transmission Among Pigs

M. Bouwknegt, P.F.M. Teunis, K. Frankena, M.C.M. de Jong, A.M. de Rode Husman

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Sources for human hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections of genotype 3 are largely unknown. Pigs are potential animal reservoirs for HEV. Intervention at pig farms may be desired when pigs are confirmed as a source for human infections, requiring knowledge about transmission routes. These routes are currently understudied. The current study aims to quantify the likelihood of pig feces in causing new HEV infections in pigs due to oral ingestion. We estimated the daily infection risk for pigs by modeling the fate of HEV in the fecal–oral (F–O) pathway. Using parameter values deemed most plausible by the authors based on current knowledge the daily risk of infection was 0.85 (95% interval: 0.03–1). The associated expected number of new infections per day was ~4 (2.5% limit 0.1, the 97% limit tending to infinity) compared to 0.7 observed in a transmission experiment with pigs, and the likelihood of feces causing the transmission approached 1. In alternative scenarios, F–O transmission of HEV was also very likely to cause new infections. By reducing the total value of all explanatory variables by 2 orders of magnitude, the expected numbers of newly infected pigs approached the observed number. The likelihood of F–O transmission decreased by decreasing parameter values, allowing for at most 94% of infections being caused by additional transmission routes. Nevertheless, in all scenarios F–O transmission was estimated to contribute to HEV transmission. Thus, despite the difficulty in infecting pigs with HEV via oral inoculation, the F–O route is likely to cause HEV transmission among pigs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-950
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • hepatitis-e-virus
  • local grocery stores
  • rt-pcr assay
  • united-states
  • experimental-infection
  • livers sold
  • sows feces
  • swine
  • japan
  • inactivation

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