Hepatitis E Virus in Goats

Hepatitis E Virus in humans is a major cause of acute hepatitis worldwide, primarily transmitted by fecal-oral route. But there are other routes that pose an intrinsic risk to humans.

Zoonotic transmission of Hepatitis E Virus from Hepatitis E Virus infected pigs (uncooked or undercooked pork)[1] or cows (milk)[2] to humans or non-human primates has previously been confirmed. Yes, the Hepatitis E Virus is excreted into milk that is produced by infected cows. Drink it unpasteurised and you're likely to get infected.
The risk of Hepatitis E Virus in goats is only rarely studied. In large parts of China raw mutton and goat milk are traditionally consumed, which means there is certainly a risk of transmission of Hepatitis E virus from goats to humans. The risk of Hepatitis E Virus in goats is only rarely studied.

Now, researchers have studied stool, blood, tissues and milk of goats for Hepatitis E Virus infection investigation in Yunnan Province in China. Not surprisingly, a high prevalence of Hepatitis E Virus infection in goats was found[3]. Analysis revealed that all Hepatitis E Virus isolates from those goats belong to genotype 4 and subtype 4h, and shared a high similarity (>99.6%) with Hepatitis E Virus isolated from humans, swine and cows in the same area.

Which means that Hepatitis E Virus is circulating in at least four different species and that poses a near certainty that the virus will mutate in the foreseeable future.

[1] Meng et al: Prevalence of antibodies to the HEV in pigs from countries where HEV is common or rare in the human population in Journal of Medical Virology – 1999
[2] Huang et al: Excretion of infectious hepatitis E virus into milk in cows imposes high risks of zoonosis in Hepatology – 2016
[3] Long et al: High prevalence of Hepatitis E virus infection in goats in Journal of Medical Virology – 2017

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