A study conducted by the University of Life Sciences and the Health Development Institute showed that hepatitis E is common on pig farms and 62 percent of tests disclosed antibodies of the disease.
In the next phase, researchers will try to find out how widespread the disease is in people in Estonia.
The disease is pandemic in all regions of the world, but especially encountered in Asia, where it is waterborne. The disease is usually found in isolated cases, though epidemics have been known to occur.
"Our study findings show that the virus is widespread in Estonian pigs," said associate professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Life Sciences, Tiiu Saar. "Thus there is a potential risk of the disease being transmitted to people."
Four genotypes exist: 1 and 2 infect people, 3 and 4 infect pigs but are communicable to humans. Genotype 4 is thus far mainly confined to Asia.
The incubation period is 15-60 days, and symptoms resemble those of other acute forms of hepatitis.
Previous studies in Europe have shown that domestic pigs are heavily infected by genotype 3, and it has been found in pork and pork liver.