Phylogenetic investigation of nosocomial transmission of hepatitis C virus in an oncology ward

Agnes Dencs, Andrea Hettmann, Tibor Martyin, Csilla Jekkel, Tivadar Bányai, Mária Takács
Journal of Medical Virology 2011, 83 (3): 428-36
Nosocomial hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections have been reported from different health-care settings worldwide. Twenty patients, treated at the same oncology department, with no previous record of hepatitis C infection, tested positive for anti-HCV antibodies between November 2007 and June 2008. Twelve of the newly infected patients were found to be HCV RNA positive. The common origin of the infections was assumed. To investigate the relatedness of the detected viral strains phylogenetic analyses were performed using sequences from the NS5B and E1/E2 genome regions. A patient carrying HCV for years was also involved in the study. She was treated at the same oncology department and was considered a possible infectious source. The previous HCV carrier harbored subtype 1b, while all other patients were infected with subtype 1a. Sequences from the 12 newly infected patients formed two groups. The viral sequences within the groups were very closely related. A greater evolutionary distance was observed between the two groups; however, their relatedness could be demonstrated by sequences from both regions with high statistical support. The results indicated that nosocomial transmission occurred. The phylogenetic analyses suggested that the viruses originated from a common source, possibly a patient carrying highly divergent variants. This presumed infectious source could not be identified in the course of this study. The genotype distribution of Hungarian control sequences included in the analysis confirmed this conclusion, since HCV genotype 1a was found to be relatively uncommon.

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