We investigated for HEV-RNA in serum samples obtained from 15 wild boars in the Iriomote Island of Okinawa Prefecture, and 2 of 15 (13.3%) were positive for HEV-RNA. Sequence analysis of a part of ORF1 region (326 nt) indicated that the 2 isolates from the Iriomote's boars (wbOK126 and wbOK128) were fairly remote from known strains: none of known sequences showed a nucleotide similarity greater than 90%. In phylogenetic tree analyses, however, the wbOK126 and wbOK128 isolates segregated to genotype 4, and formed a cluster with Chinese strains, rather than with Japanese ones interestingly. Regarding the geographical situation of the Iriomote Island (i.e., nearer to China than to Japan's main lands), our present results provide a clue to the origin of Japan-indigenous HEV strains.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is a zoonotic food-borne disease. In Hokkaido, ingestion of raw pork liver or intestines is considered to be responsible for HEV infection. We interviewed patients on animal internal organ intake prior to developing hepatitis E, to investigate into this relationship. Among 32 patients with hepatitis E, four patients had history of raw or undercooked liver, and nine undercooked intestines intake. Two patients ingested both raw liver and undercooked intestines. 11 cases (34%) had no history of eating intestine during latency period. In this series of patients in Sapporo, ingestion of liver or intestine was at most responsible for 34% of patients with hepatitis E and was a predominant risk factor of HEV infection.
We investigated the effects of zinc supplementation on the clinical observations in chronic hepatitis C patients during PEG-interferon α-2b plus ribavirin (PEG-IFN/R) therapy. Patients were randomly allocated to receive daily 150 mg polaprezinc (Zn group, n=11) or no supplement (control, n=12) in addition to PEG-IFN/R therapy and daily antioxidant vitamin supplementation (300 mg of vitamin E and 600 mg of vitamin C). Ten of 11 patients (91%) in Zn group and 7 of 12 (58%) control patients showed decrease in ALT levels (</=35 U/l) after 8 weeks of therapy. This observation indicates that polaprezinc supplementation may induce antioxidative functions in liver which resulted in improvement of hepatocyte injury during PEG-IFN/R therapy.