A novel avian-like hepatitis E virus in wild aquatic bird, little egret (Egretta garzetta), in Hungary

Gábor Reuter, Ákos Boros, Róbert Mátics, Beatrix Kapusinszky, Eric Delwart, Péter Pankovics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatitis E virus (HEV), family Hepeviridae, has public health concerns because of its zoonotic potential; however, the host species spectrum, animal to animal transmissions, the natural chain of hepevirus infections and the genetic diversity of HEV in wildlife especially in birds are less known. Using random amplification and next generation sequencing technology a genetically divergent avian HEV was serendipitously identified in wild bird in Hungary. HEV RNA was detected with high faecal viral load (1.33 × 108 genomic copies/ml) measured by real-time PCR in faecal sample from a little egret (Egretta garzetta). The complete genome of HEV strain little egret/kocsag02/2014/HUN (KX589065) is 6660-nt long including a 18-nt 5′ end and a 103-nt 3′ end (excluding the poly(A)-tail). Sequence analyses indicated that the ORF1 (4554nt/1517aa), ORF2 (1728nt/593aa) and ORF3 (339nt/112aa) encoded proteins of little egret/kocsag02/2014/HUN shared the highest identity (62.8%, 71% and 61.5%) to the corresponding proteins of genotype 1 avian (chicken) HEV in species Orthohepevirus B, respectively. This study reports the identification and complete genome characterization of a novel orthohepevirus distantly related to avian (chicken) HEVs at the first time in wild bird. It is important to recognize all potential hosts, reservoirs and spreaders in nature and to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of hepeviruses. Birds could be an important reservoir of HEV generally and could be infected with genetically highly divergent strains of HEV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-77
Number of pages4
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Avian hepatitis E virus
  • Big liver and spleen disease
  • Hepatitis-splenomegaly syndrome
  • Little egret
  • Orthohepevirus
  • Wild bird

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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