Long-Term Determinants of the Seroprevalence of the Hepatitis E Virus in Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)



The hepatitis E virus (HEV) is an emerging zoonotic pathogen whose main reservoir is suids. Most of the ecological and epidemiological aspects of its sylvatic cycle remain unknown. Thus, in this work, we study the drivers of HEV exposure in the wild boar population of Doñana National Park (DNP, southwest Spain) operating in the medium and long-term (2005–2018). Anti-HEV antibodies are widely distributed throughout the wild boar (46.7 ± 3.8%, 327 out of 700 sampled), showing a statistically significant age-increasing pattern. The temporal pattern displayed important interannual fluctuations. This could be mediated by marked variations in the population control of the wild boar, and subsequent changes in abundance rates, and its interplay with climatic conditions; as wet years together with a low abundance of wild boar led to the lowest seroprevalence. The fact that seroprevalence is high during conditions of high abundance, and not affected by rainfall level, is probably due to the increased interactions among the animals, and possibly, the subsequent higher environmental contamination with HEV particles. The proximity to the marshland (the main water body of the study area) is associated with a higher risk of testing positive, which is probably mediated by the preferential use of this area during the dry season and the favourable environmental conditions for the survival of HEV particles. A deeper understanding of the epidemiology of HEV in host communities deserves future research concerning other susceptible species. Most importantly, wild boar population control remains a challenge at the international level, and an increase of shared pathogen-related conflicts associated with this species is expected, as exemplified by HEV. Therefore, surveillance of wild boar diseases, including integrated population monitoring and sustainable population control programmes, will be essential to control the associated risks. View Full-Text

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