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Prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection and response to hepatitis B vaccination among Egyptian school children

Neveen Tawfik Abed, Mona Ahmed Abdel-Baky El-Awady, Reda Sanad Arafa, Mona Eltoukhy Mohamed.


Background: A prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is relatively low in children as it was 3% and 9% in the upper and lower Egypt areas, respectively. Most chronic hepatitis C patients are asymptomatic and unaware of their disease before diagnosis. Similarly, hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major cause of chronic liver disease, particularly cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, though HBV incidence and infection has been markedly reduced after mass vaccination programs.

Objectives: To identify the prevalence and risk factors of asymptomatic HCV infection and evaluate response of hepatitis B vaccination among Egyptian children.

Materials and Methods: Six hundred children (6-17 years) were screened for HCV antibodies (HCV Ab) and hepatitis B surface antibody concentration (HBsAb) was quantitated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. HCV Ab-seropositive was tested for HCV ribonucleic acid by real-time-polymerase chain reaction, complete blood count, and liver function tests.

Results: 4.7% were diagnosed as HCV Ab-seropositive and 58.5 % as HBsAb-seroprotective (HBsAb ≥10 mIU/ml). History of exposure to blood transfusion, frequent intravenous injection, history of prior hospitalization and blood exposure were significantly more likely to be among HCV seropositive. Blood transfusion was considered the most predictable risk factor for HCV infection. There was a significant decrease in HBsAb concentration with increasing age.

Conclusion: Booster dose of hepatitis B vaccine should be considered to enhance immune protection of the vaccine especially in our endemic area.

Key words: Seropositive; Seroprotective, Hepatitis C Virus; Hepatitis B Surface Antibody Concentration; Immunity

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