Prevalence of hepatitis E virus antibodies in cattle in Burkina Faso associated with swine mixed farming

J Vet Sci. 2022 May;23(3):e33. doi: 10.4142/jvs.21235. Epub 2022 Feb 9.


Background: Endemic circulation of human-specific hepatitis E virus (HEV) genotypes 1 and 2 may occult the importance of sporadic zoonotic HEV transmissions in Africa. Increasing numbers of studies reporting anti-HEV antibodies in cattle and the discovery of infectious HEV in cow milk has raised public health concern, but cattle exposure has seldom been investigated in Africa.

Objectives: This study aimed at investigating the role of cows in the epidemiology of HEV in Burkina Faso and farmers habits in terms of dairy product consumption as a prerequisite to estimate the risk of transmission to humans.

Methods: Sera from 475 cattle and 192 pigs were screened for the presence of anti-HEV antibodies while HEV RNA in swine stools was detected by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Data on mixed farming, dairy product consumption and selling habits were gathered through questionnaires.

Results: The overall seroprevalence in cattle was 5.1% and herd seroprevalence reached 32.4% (11/34). Herd seropositivity was not associated with husbandry practice or presence of rabbits on the farms. However, herd seropositivity was associated with on-site presence of pigs, 80.7% of which had anti-HEV antibodies. The majority of farmers reported to preferentially consume raw milk based dairy products.

Conclusions: Concomitant presence of pigs on cattle farms constitutes a risk factor for HEV exposure of cattle. However, the risk of HEV infections associated with raw cow dairy product consumption is currently considered as low.

Keywords: Burkina Faso; Cattle; Hepatitis E; Public Health; Seroprevalence; Zoonosis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Burkina Faso / epidemiology
  • Cattle
  • Farms
  • Female
  • Hepatitis E virus* / genetics
  • Hepatitis E* / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis E* / veterinary
  • Prevalence
  • Rabbits
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases* / epidemiology