Hepatitis G virus infection in a high-risk subgroup of hospitalized dental patients

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Abstract

Objective.

The prevalence of hepatitis G virus infection was evaluated in dental patients whose clinical laboratory test results were positive for hepatitis C virus antibody, hepatitis B virus surface antigen, or elevated serum alanine transaminase concentrations.

Study design.

Frozen serum samples from patients with hepatitis C virus antibody (n = 63), hepatitis B virus surface antigen (n = 20), or alanine transaminase concentrations greater than 100 IU (n = 14) were assessed for GB virus C (GBV-C)/hepatitis G virus RNA by a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction.

Results.

Six of 63 patients with hepatitis C virus antibodies had serum hepatitis G virus RNA (9.5%), and 2 of 20 subjects with hepatitis B virus surface antigen had hepatitis G virus RNA (10.0%). None of 14 patients whose alanine transaminase concentration was greater than 100 IU/L had hepatitis G virus RNA. Of 4 subjects with both hepatitis C virus antibody and hepatitis B virus surface antigen, 2 had hepatitis G virus RNA (50%). In the total study population (N = 92), 6 subjects (6.5%) had hepatitis G virus RNA. All hepatitis G virus-infected patients also had hepatitis C virus antibody. Neither serum alanine transaminase nor aspartate transaminase concentrations were different between subjects with and subjects without hepatitis G virus RNA. The lack of a relationship between hepatitis G virus infection and elevation of alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase might suggest that this virus is not truly a hepatitis virus.

Conclusions.

Hospitalized dental patients are infected with hepatitis G virus at a prevalence similar to or slightly higher than that seen in the general population. Dentists should pay close attention to infection control with respect to the potential new hepatitis virus known as hepatitis G virus.

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