Prevalence of Paslahepevirus balayani in commercial swine food products from Spain

One Health


Paslahepevirus balayani (formerly known as hepatitis E virus) is an emerging cause of foodborne disease in Europe, transmitted mainly by the consumption of raw or undercooked pork. Since little is known about the presence of the virus in several pork products that are eaten uncooked, our aim was to evaluate the prevalence of Paslahepevirus balayani in groups of commercial pork products intended for human consumption subjected to different processing techniques. A total of 1265 samples of pork products from Spain were divided into four groups and tested for the presence of Paslahepevirus balayani RNA: unprocessed pig and wild boar meat frozen at −20 °C (n = 389), dry-cured pork products (n = 391), dry-cured and salted pork products (n = 219), and boiled products (n = 266) (none of these products contained pork liver). Five samples were positive for Paslahepevirus balayani RNA (overall prevalence: 0.4%; 95% CI: 0.17% – 0.92%). All positive samples were from unprocessed meat stored at −20 °C, with a prevalence in this group of 1.3% (95% CI: 0.42–3.44); two samples came from pigs (1.1%; 95% CI: 0.13–3.81) and three from wild boar (1.5%; 95% CI: 0.31–4.28). None of the pork samples in the other groups was positive. In conclusion, Paslahepevirus balayani was found in unprocessed swine products form Spain, but not in processed products intended to be consumed undercooked, demonstrating that transmission of this zoonotic virus by eating these pork products should be more seriously considered.

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