High Seroprevalence of Hepatitis C Infection among Risk Groups in Egypt

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  • Departments of Tropical Medicine, Clinical Pathology, and Pediatrics, Cairo University Faculty of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, International Health Program and Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Cairo, Egypt

High prevalence rates of hepatitis C virus (HCV) were recently reported among Egyptian blood donors. To confirm these observations and estimate the magnitude of HCV infection in this country, we determined the prevalence of antibodies to HCV (anti-HCV) in samples collected in 1992 from seven different populations of children and adults living in Egypt. Anti-HCV was found in 12.1% of rural primary schoolchildren, 18.1% of residents of a rural village, 22.1% of army recruits, 16.4% of children with hepatosplenomegaly, 54.9% of hospitalized, multitransfused children, 46.2% of adults on hemodialysis, and 47.2% of adults with chronic liver disease or hepatoma. Age-related prevalence of anti-HCV in a random sample of 270 inhabitants of a rural village increased progressively from zero in those 5–10 years of age to 41% in adults greater than the age of 50. Although the increased prevalence of anti-HCV among children and adults with parenteral exposures and chronic liver disease was expected, the prevalence of anti-HCV among persons representing the general population of Egypt was strikingly high. These data demonstrate the magnitude of HCV infection and its importance in chronic liver disease in Egypt. Future studies are needed to determine the routes of transmission of HCV in this country.