I came across a recent Dutch study on the detection of the Hepatitis E Virus in wild boar and red deer in the Netherlands. The study was initiated by Henk Reesink, MD PhD of the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) in Amsterdam, after Hepatitis E was discovered in one of his patients. The patient did not belong to any of the usual risk categories (this patient had only visited a camping site in Holland in an area known for its wildlife).
The researchers from the AMC and The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) found the Hepatitis E virus (HEV) was present in 8% of the wild boar and 15% of the Red deer samples investigated.
Studies in Japan have already demonstrated that deer (Sika), pig and wild boar have serum antibodies to HEV, suggesting that HEV is a zoonotic disease and various cases of acute hepatitis E have been linked to eating undercooked pork liver or undercooked wild boar or deer meat. This was the first time the virus was found in European Red deer.
Although the virus can cause serious complications (particularly with pregnant women), the disease is not that common. The conclusion is that given the high percentage of infected animals, the transmission of the virus from animals to humans is not very effective.
Despite the small risk of getting infected, certain level of care is recommended. The consumption of undercooked meat or carpaccio may lead to human exposure to HEV.
NB Roe deer was investigated too but the virus was not detected in any of the samples.
NB The study was published in the Journal of Virological Methods, Volume 168, September 2010