HCV-infected children may transmit disease to relatives
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission from infected children to other relatives happens, and the only documented way of transmission either directly or indirectly is through parenteral route, a recent study has found.
This cross-sectional, case-control study enrolled 157 (86 HCV positive, 71 HCV negative) paediatric oncology patients who received treatment and follow-up at Zagazig University Hospital in Egypt, as well as their household family contacts (n=751).
To confirm positivity, HCV antibodies and HCV RNA were analysed using blood samples collected from 450 relatives of HCV infected cases (group 1) and 301 household contacts of HCV-negative cases (group 2). Family contacts of HCV-infected cases were interviewed, and each participant completed a close-ended questionnaire to determine risk factors and possible routes of HCV intrafamilial transmission.
HCV prevalence and chronicity rates were significantly higher among relatives of HCV-infected children as compared with contacts of HCV-negative patients (12.6 percent and 10.6 percent for group 1 vs 7 percent and 5.3 percent for group 2, respectively).
Univariate and logistic regression analyses were conducted to calculate the risk factors for infection among contacts of HCV-infected children.
The predictors of intrafamilial HCV infection were as follows: female caregivers, particularly mother (odds ratio [OR], 5.1, 95 percent CI, 2–13.5); contact with index cases blood, either directly without using personal protective equipment (OR, 7.8, 2.9–23.8) or indirectly through common use of sharps (eg, razors, scissors; OR, 8.9, 3.5–20.5) and nail clippers (OR, 2.1, 1.1–5.4); and giving care to infected cases (OR, 2.9, 1.3–16.6).
“HCV is the most commonly encountered blood transmittable hepatitis among cancer patients,” the investigators said. “Several studies have reported clustering of HCV infections in families or household contacts of infected cases.”