Exponential Spread of Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 4a in Egypt
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects >10% of the general population in Egypt, in which intravenous injection with an antimony compound for endemic schistosomiasis in the past has been implicated. To simulate the epidemic history of HCV in Egypt, sera were obtained from 3608 blood donors at 13 governorates in or surrounding the Nile valley during 1999. The prevalence of antibody to HCV (anti-HCV) and genotypes was determined in them, and the molecular evolutionary analysis based on the neutral theory was applied to HCV isolates of genotype 4a, which is outstandingly prevalent in Egypt and indigenous there. Of 3608 sera, 317 (8.8%) were positive for anti-HCV. The molecular evolutionary analysis on 47 HCV genotype 4a isolates of carriers from various districts in Egypt indicated that the spread of HCV-4a would have increased exponentially during the 1940s through 1980 when oral medications became available. In conclusion, the estimated spread time is consistent with the duration of intravenous antimony campaigns in Egypt.
KeywordsHepatic C virus Genotype 4a Egypt Neutral theory Molecular evolutionary analyses Schistosomiasis Parenteral treatment
This study was supported by grants-in-aid for Young Scientists (B) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Sports of Japan (14770239), a grant-in-aid from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan (H13-kanen-2), and the Public Trust Haraguchi Memorial Cancer Research Fund. We greatly appreciate Dr. Oliver G. Pybus (Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK) for his enlightening advice on the molecular evolutionary analyses.
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