Sporadic, acute Hepatitis E is emerging more frequently in humans in the developed world, including Texas, and may be more abundant than we realize. One US human seroprevalence survey found HEV IgG rates of 21%. Many theorize a zoonotic nature of transmission; antibodies have been detected in a wide range of mammals. A recent study found 40% HEV prevalence in laboratory rabbits. Currently the USDA and CDC place suspicion on feral pigs. But studies in Asia have found HEV in up to 23% of domestic canines so what about man's best friend as a vector of transmission? A seroprevalence study was conducted in canines from Smith County Texas, to see if HEV is present in northeast Texas, and to explore if canines could be vectors due to their behavior. Canines were selected from three sites representing different care categories: Holding facility for strays/abandoned animals, shelter for owner-surrendered canines, and a private veterinarian clinic. Specimens were drawn from 144 canines. Of 143 ELISA tests, 57 were negative, 34 indeterminate, and 52 positive. Discounting indeterminates, overall HEV prevalence was 47.7%. Site prevalence was 18.4% Holding facility, 77.8% Shelter, and 48.6% private clinic. Other HEV predictors were: Owners' knowledge of zoonotic disease, owner's familiarity with zoonoses, and pedigree.

Date of publication

Spring 5-16-2014

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