High Seroprevalence of Hepatitis A, B, C, and E Viruses in Residents in an Egyptian Village in the Nile Delta: A Pilot Study

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  • Department of Microbiology, and Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Ain Shams University Faculty of Medicine, Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Division of Geographic Medicine, Department of Medicine and the Center for Vaccine Development, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Abbassia, Cairo, Egypt
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is hyperendemic in Egypt, with seroprevalence rates of 10–20% among volunteer blood donors, and even higher rates reported among segments of the general population. We attempted to confirm the high seroprevalence of HCV and to compare it with the age-specific seroprevalence rates for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis E among 155 nonrandomly selected residents of a semiurban village in the Nile River delta. Of the two orally transmitted viruses (HAV and HEV), all 1–3-year-old children had been infected by HAV and the seroprevalence rate of 100% persisted until age 67. In contrast, HEV infections were not detected until children were 4–9-years old, and the 57% seroprevalence rate in this age group did not increase appreciably in older age groups. Of the two parenterally transmitted viruses, HBV was first detected in 1–3-year-olds, whereas HCV was first detected later, in 10–19-year-olds. The seroprevalence rates of both viruses increased progressively with age, peaking in the 40–67-year-old group at 66% for HBV and at 51% for HCV. The number of persons who had only one infection, or no infection at all, was too small to allow meaningful statistical analysis of serologically pure groups infected only by HBV, HCV, or HEV. The results of this pilot study revealed extraordinarily high seroprevalence rates of HBV, HCV, and HEV in this village, and distinctive age-specific seroprevalence rates suggesting different patterns of transmission.