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Open Access Research article

Acute hepatitis C virus infection assessment among chronic hemodialysis patients in the Southwest Parana State, Brazil

Maricea Engel, Fernanda M Malta, Michele MS Gomes, Isabel MVGC Mello, João RR Pinho, Suzane K Ono-Nita and Flair J Carrilho*

Author Affiliations

Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology Branch, University of São Paulo, School of Medicine, São Paulo, Brazil

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:50  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-50

Published: 4 April 2007

Abstract

Background

Chronic hemodialysis patients are at higher risk for acquiring hepatitis C virus (HCV). The prevalence varies among different countries and hemodialysis centers. Although guidelines for a comprehensive infection control program exist, the nosocomial transmission still accounts for the new cases of infection. The aim of this study was analyze the follow up of newly acquired acute hepatitis C cases, during the period from January 2002 to May 2005, in the Hemodialysis Center, located in the Southwest region of Parana State, Brazil and to analyze the effectiveness of the measures to restrain the appearance of new cases of acute hepatitis C.

Methods

Patients were analyzed monthly with anti-HCV tests and ALT measurements. Patients with ALT elevations were monitored for possible acute hepatitis C.

Results

During this period, 32 new cases were identified with acute hepatitis C virus infection. Blood screening showed variable ALT levels preceding the anti-HCV seroconversion. HCV RNA viremia by PCR analysis was intermittently and even negative in some cases. Ten out of 32 patients received 1 mcg/kg dose of pegylated interferon alfa-2b treatment for 24 weeks. All dialysis personnel were re-trained to strictly follow the regulations and recommendations regarding infection control, proper methods to clean and disinfect equipment were reviewed and HCV-positive patients were isolated.

Conclusion

Laboratory tests results showed variable ALT preceding anti-HCV seroconversion and intermittent viremia. The applied recommendations contributed importantly to restrain the appearance of new cases of acute hepatitis C in this center and the last case was diagnosed in May 2004.