Nearly one third of forestry workers in parts of eastern France are infected with Hepatitis E virus (HEV), according to a paper in the September Journal of Clinical Microbiology. Wild boars in the same region are also heavily infected. HEV is endemic in developing nations, but heretofore, HEV infection in industrialized nations has been most closely correlated with travel to developing nations.
The prevalence of HEV was found to be 14 percent among wild boar, about half that in pigs, says principal investigator Pierre Coursaget of the University of Tours, France. An earlier study found 12 percent prevalence among boar in The Netherlands. Among humans in the current study, the prevalence of anti-HEV antibodies increases with age, and varies with occupation and geographic location within eastern France. “The frequency of HEV infections in humans did not correlate with the number of pigs, locally, but there is good correlation with the number of car accidents due to wild boars,” a surrogate for contact between humans and wild boars, says Coursaget.