Lack of de novo hepatitis C virus infections and absence of nosocomial transmissions of GB virus C in a large cohort of German haemodialysis patients

R S Ross, S Viazov, R Clauberg, B Wolters, I Fengler, K Eveld, R Scheidhauer, J Hüsing, Th Philipp, A Kribben, M Roggendorf
Journal of Viral Hepatitis 2009, 16 (4): 230-8
To determine the prevalence and incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections among haemodialysis patients, a large prospective multicentre trial was conducted in the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Sera obtained from the recruited patients in two separate sampling rounds run 1 year apart were analysed for both anti-HCV antibodies and HCV RNA. HCV RNA positive samples were also genotyped by direct sequencing of an HCV core fragment. In the first and second rounds, 150 (5.2%) of 2909 and 114 (5.4%) of 2100 patients were anti-HCV positive, respectively, and 4% of individuals were viraemic. Evaluation of potential risk factors in a case-control study indicated that the factors 'foreign country of birth', 'blood transfusions given before 1991' and 'duration of treatment on haemodialysis' were associated with the risk of HCV infection. Among the 2100 patients of whom 'paired' serum samples from both rounds were available for testing, not a single 'de novo' HCV infection could be recorded. The fact that in a subset of about 20% of these patients no nosocomial GB virus C (GBV-C) transmission occurred during the observational period suggests that the lack of HCV seroconversions was not only attributable to the isolation of HCV-infected patients but also to the strict adherence to so-called universal hygienic precautions for infection control maintained in the participating dialysis centres.

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