Real-time PCR-based methods for detection of Hepatitis E virus in pork products: a critical review

Nigel Cook*, Martin D'Agostino, Ann Wood, Linda Scobie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Standard methods for detection of hepatitis A virus and norovirus in at-risk foodstuffs are available, but currently there is no standard method for detection of hepatitis E virus (HEV) in pork products or other foods that can be contaminated with the virus. Detection assays for HEV are mainly based on nucleic acid amplification, particularly the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) in real-time format. RTPCR-based methods can be sensitive and specific, but they require a suite of controls to verify that they have performed correctly. There have been several RTPCR methods developed to detect HEV in pork products, varying in details of sample preparation and RTPCR target sequences. This review critically discusses published HEV detection methods, with emphasis on those that have been successfully used in subsequent studies and surveys. RTPCR assays have been used both qualitatively and quantitatively, although in the latter case the data acquired are only reliable if appropriate assay calibration has been performed. One particular RTPCR assay appears to be ideal for incorporation in a standard method, as it has been demonstrated to be highly specific and sensitive, and an appropriate control and calibration standard is available. The review focuses on the detection of HEV in pork products and similar foodstuffs (e.g., boar). The information may be useful to inform standardisation activities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number428
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2022


  • hepatitis E virus; detection; real-time RTPCR; pork products; sample treatment
  • pork products
  • sample treatment
  • detection
  • real-time RTPCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology
  • Microbiology


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