J. Clin. Microbiol. 2001; 39: 2860-3
31 July 2001
Hepatitis C outbreak among gynecology patients
Italian doctors have investigated an outbreak of
hepatitis C infection among gynecological patients
undergoing surgery at the same clinic.
Dr Marco Massari and colleagues used molecular
fingerprinting analysis and epidemiological techniques
to examine 4 recent cases of hepatitis C infection in
patients at the same gynecology clinic.
Dr Massari identified the possible source of the
infection as an HCV-positive woman, who was the first
patient of a surgical session that also included the
four other women involved in the outbreak.
All 5 patients were infected with hepatitis C virus
Molecular characterization of HCV isolates in each
patient revealed a close homology between the viral
isolates of the suggested source of the infection and
those from the outbreak patients.
Molecular characterization was achieved by sequence
analysis of structural envelope regions and the
nonstructural NS5 region of the viral genome.
Dr Massari's team also compared the viral isolates of
the source with those from 4 unrelated cases of
hepatitis C type 1b in the same area (controls).
Transmission was by administration of propofol from
Journal of Clinical Microbiology
The controls were significantly less similar to the
viral isolates of the source patient then isolates
from the outbreak patients.
The investigation of the outbreak revealed that the
virus was transmitted by administration of propofol
from multi-dose vials.
Dr Massari concludes, "The study documents the risk of
nosocomial transmission of HCV and the importance of
infection control procedures in the operating room."
This research also highlights the role of molecular
strategies in the investigation of HCV outbreaks.
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