Background: Hepatitis E (HEV) is an emerging cause of viral hepatitis worldwide. Swine carrying hepatitis E genotype 3 (HEV-3) are responsible for the majority of chronic viral hepatitis cases in developed countries. Recently, genotype 7 (HEV-7), isolated from a dromedary camel in the United Arab Emirates, was also associated with chronic viral hepatitis in a transplant recipient. In Israel, chronic HEV infection has not yet been reported, although HEV seroprevalence in humans is ~10%. Camels and swine are >65% seropositive. Here we report on the isolation and characterization of HEV from local camels and swine. Methods: Sera from camels (n = 142), feces from swine (n = 18) and blood from patients suspected of hepatitis E (n = 101) were collected during 2017–2020 and used to detect and characterize HEV sequences. Results: HEV-3 isolated from local swine and the camel-derived HEV-7 sequence were highly similar to HEV-3f and HEV-7 sequences (88.2% and 86.4%, respectively) related to viral hepatitis. The deduced amino acid sequences of both isolates were also highly conserved (>98%). Two patients were HEV-RNA positive; acute HEV-1 infection could be confirmed in one of them. Discussion: The absence of any reported HEV-3 and HEV-7 infection in humans remains puzzling, especially considering the reported seroprevalence rates, the similarity between HEV sequences related to chronic hepatitis and the HEV genotypes identified in swine and camels in Israel.
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- Dromedary camel
- Hepatitis E