Animal Health

Routes of Transmission of Swine Hepatitis E virus in Pigs

  • C Kasorndorkbua (Iowa State University)
  • P. J. Thomas (Iowa State University)
  • Patrick G. Halbur (Iowa State University)
  • F. F. Huang (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
  • D. K. Guenette (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
  • X.-J. Meng (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is believed to be transmitted by the fecal-oral route in pigs. To date, HEV has been transmitted experimentally by the intravenous or intrahepatic route. To assess the possible route (s) of HEV transmission, tonsil/nasal secretions, use of contaminated needles, or fecal-oral exposures were simulated in a swine bioassay. Three positive-control pigs were inoculated intravenously with swine HEV and served as the source of biological samples (tonsil/nasal secretion swabs, bloodcontaminated needles, or pooled fresh feces) to be used as inocula in the swine bioassay. Three uninoculated pigs were placed with the positive-control pigs and served as contact controls. Weekly fecal and serum samples from each exposed pig were tested for anti-HEV antibodies and HEV RNA to confirm HEV infection. All positive-control and contact-control pigs became infected. One of three fecaloral exposed pigs shed the virus in feces and seroconverted. Three pigs exposed to the tonsil/nasal secretion swabs and the three pigs exposed to the contaminated needles remained negative. The fecal-oral route of transmission was confirmed in pigs. It is less likely that HEV is transmitted via contaminated needles or tonsil/nasal secretions.

Keywords: Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine

How to Cite:

Kasorndorkbua, C., Thomas, P. J., Halbur, P. G., Huang, F., Guenette, D. K. & Meng, X., (2005) “Routes of Transmission of Swine Hepatitis E virus in Pigs”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2(1). doi:

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Published on
01 Jan 2005
Peer Reviewed