AbstractHepatitis E virus (HEV) causes an orofecal disease transmitted through poor hygiene environments, contaminated food (mainly pork products), or by contacts with infected animals. Very little data are currently available regarding the disease in the Southwestern Indian Ocean Islands. We report the first sero- and viro-survey for HEV in human and swine in Madagascar. A seroprevalence rate of 14.1% (60 of 427) was measured in slaughterhouse workers.
Seroprevalence to HEV in pigs was estimated to 71.2% (178 of 250), strongly suggesting the existence of a zoonotic cycle. Three out of 250 pig livers (1.2%) tested HEV RNA-positive by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Phylogenetic analyses based on 1-kb sequences of the ORF 2-3 identified these viruses as HEV genotype 3. Sequences clustered in a distinct Malagasy sub-clade, possibly representative of a new sub-genotype, for which the date of emergence was estimated around 1989. Further studies are needed to confirm other transmission routes of HEV to humans, especially through non-zoonotic cycles.