Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 2013 Apr 22;107(4):224-8. Epub 2013 Jan 22.
Paediatric, Faculty of Medicine, Tanta University, Egypt.
Background: Transfusion dependant patients are at a higher risk of acquiring bloodborne infections even under conditions of safe transfusion. This study was designed to determine sero-prevalence of hepatitis C infection and possible associated risk factors in thalassaemic children.
Methods: One hundred and twenty five children with β thalassaemia major (β-TM) were recruited from the Haematology/Oncology Unit, Paediatric Department, Tanta University Hospital, Egypt, between April 2010 and October 2011. Patients underwent history taking, full clinical examination, routine investigations and venous blood sampling. Serum was stored at -20°C till tested for hepatitis C (HCV Ab) and B (HBsAg) by ELISA. HCV Ab positive cases were confirmed by PCR.
Results: All patients were HBsAg negative. HCV Ab ELISA was positive in 76%, negative in 20% and equivocal in 4%. Fifty patients (40%) had positive PCR for HCV. PCR showed low viraemia in 78%, moderate viraemia in 20% and high viraemia in 2%. A positive family history of HCV, history of minor operative intervention and/or dental procedures were significantly associated with higher frequency of HCV infection in thalassaemic children, while amount and frequency of transfused blood, age at transfusion and chelation state were not.
Conclusion: HCV infection is highly prevalent in children with β-TM in Egypt despite strict pre-transfusion blood testing. This should arouse the attention for environmental and community acquired factors. Quality management to insure infection control in minor operative procedures and adding more sensitive tests for blood screening are recommended.