Hepatitis B, C, D, and E Markers in Rural Equatorial African Villages (Gabon)

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  • Department de Parasitologie et Medecine Tropicale, Faculte de Medecine de Tours, Department de Parasitologie, Faculte de Medecine de Libreville, Unite de Virologie, Department de Microbiologie Medicale et Moleculaire, Unite de Recherche Associee du Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Centre Hospitalo Universitaire de Tours, Tours, France

Serologic markers of hepatitis B virus (HBV), including HBV DNA, and of hepatitis delta virus were measured in three villages in Gabon. Of 303 subjects studied, 19% were carriers of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg); 8.5% of these had anti-delta antibodies. No difference among the three villages was observed. All HBV DNA carriers were children less than 11 years of age. In the 2–9-year-old group, 71% of the HBsAg-positive children tested were HBV DNA carriers. These results indicate that HBV prevalence is high in Gabon and emphasize the importance of horizontal transmission of HBV in Africa. Antibodies to hepatitis C virus, assessed in one of the three villages, were found with a prevalence of 35% with a second generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and 24% with a third generation ELISA. None of 35 subjects tested for antibodies to hepatitis E virus was positive.