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J Trop Med Hyg. 1992 Feb;95(1):57-61.

Seroprevalence of anti-HCV in an urban child population: a pilot survey in a developing area, Cameroon.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Institute of Internal Medicine, Italy.


Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is the principal agent of non-A, non-B hepatitis and its spread in the community is not well defined. We evaluated the prevalence of anti-HCV (ortho ELISA System) in 696 children (4-14 years) in Kumba, Cameroon. Children were selected by systematic random sampling in six primary schools. A seroprevalence of 14.5% (101 children) was found which increased steadily with age. No significant differences were observed with respect to sex or to family size. There was a highly significant association both with parents' social class, the lowest class presenting a 2.2-fold risk factor, and with area of residence, suburban children showing a significantly higher prevalence (P less than 0.01). These results suggest that Cameroon is endemic for HCV infection, that children are infected at an early age and that infection increases with age. We can therefore hypothesize that transmission of HCV infection in this population is from child to child. Furthermore, the infection seems to be influenced by social factors but not by demographic ones.


The seroprevalence of anti-hepatitis C virus antibodies in a randomly selected group of 696 urban and suburban children from Kumba City, South West Province, Cameroon, was estimated with ELISA kits (Ortho Diagnostic Systems). The children, aged 4-14 years, were selected from 6 primary schools. Sera were frozen and shipped in a thermocooled container within 15 hours to Rome for analysis at the laboratory of Virology, National Institute of Health. The overall seroprevalence was 14.5%, increasing from 6.6% in children aged 4-6, to 17.5% in those aged 11 (p0.001). There was no difference between sexes or among those with different family sizes. Those among lower classes, based on parents' occupation, had a 2.2-fold greater risk for positive anti-HCV antibodies. Children of single parents were not at increased risk. Suburban children had higher seroprevalence, 21.0%, compared to urban children, 11.5%. Since hepatitis C is transmitted parenterally, and ritual scarification and tattooing now are rare, it was hypothesized that transmission may have occurred from contact sports or play, or by an insect vector.

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