First detection and characterization of hepatitis E virus (Rocahepevirus ratti) from urban Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) in the Republic of Korea

Kyungmin Park, Jongwoo Kim, Juyoung Noh, Kijin Kim, Eunyoung Yang, Seong Gyu Kim, Hee Kyung Cho, Kwan Soo Byun, Ji Hoon Kim, Young-Sun Lee, Jung Ok Shim, Minsoo Shin, Won Keun Kim, Jin Won Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Hepatitis E virus (HEV), an emerging zoonotic pathogen, poses a significant public health concern worldwide. Recently, rat HEV (Rocahepevirus ratti genotype C1; HEV-C1) has been reported to cause zoonotic infections and hepatitis in humans. Human infections with HEV-C1 are considered to be underestimated worldwide due to limited knowledge of transmission routes, genome epidemiology, and the risk assessment of zoonosis associated with these viruses. A total of 186 wild Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) were collected from the Republic of Korea (ROK) between 2011 and 2021. The prevalence of HEV-C1 RNA was 8 of 180 (4.4%) by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. We first reported three nearly whole-genome sequences of HEV-C1 newly acquired from urban rats in the ROK. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that Korea-indigenous HEV-C1 formed an independent genetic group with those derived from R. norvegicus rats in other countries, indicating geographical and genetic diversity. Our findings provide critical insights into the molecular prevalence, genome epidemiology, and zoonotic potential of Rocahepevirus. This report raises awareness of the presence of Rocahepevirus-related hepatitis E among physicians in the ROK.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29401
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Volume96
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Jan

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Keywords

  • genetic diversity
  • genome epidemiology
  • hepatitis E virus
  • next-generation sequencing
  • Rocahepevirus
  • zoonotic potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology

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