These results highlight the potential risk of hepatitis C virus transmission from patients within haemodialysis units in Egypt” Ali et al (2018).
BACKGROUND AND STUDY AIMS: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a severe problem among patients on maintenance haemodialysis who are at particular risk for blood-borne infections because of prolonged vascular access and potential for exposure to contaminated equipment. Occult hepatitis C virus infection (OCI) is defined as the presence of HCV RNA in liver or peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in the absence of detectable HCV antibody or HCV RNA in the serum. In this study, we aimed to investigate the existence of occult hepatitis C virus infection in PBMCs of haemodialysis (HD) patients in one center. Moreover, we tried to link the condition to risk factors associated with HCV infection in those patients.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We included 40 patients with renal diseases undergoing regular haemodialysis who were repeatedly anti-HCV negative. HCV RNA detection was tested by Quantitative Real time PCR in serum and PBMCs.
RESULTS: The results of this study revealed that 23% of our haemodialysis patients have occult hepatitis C virus infection. There was a highly significant increase in ALT levels in patients with OCI versus the negative group. Also, there is a significant increase of history of blood transfusion in patients with occult HCV (p = 0.03) while the duration of haemodialysis showed no statistical significant difference between both groups. The viral load of the occult hepatitis C virus infection subjects ranged from 581to 74,307 copies/ml.
CONCLUSION: These results highlight the potential risk of hepatitis C virus transmission from patients within haemodialysis units in Egypt. Isolation of patients on dialysis machines depending on the results of hepatitis serological markers is not enough. Testing for hepatitis C virus -RNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells is more reliable in identifying patients with an OCI when a liver biopsy is not available.
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Ali, N.K., Mohamed, R.R., Saleh, B.E., Alkady, M.M. and Farag, E.S. (2018) Occult hepatitis C virus infection among haemodialysis patients. Arab Journal of Gastroenterology. September 20th. .