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Detection of hepatitis C virus in the nasal secretions of an intranasal drug-user.

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National Development and Research Institutes, 71 West 23rd Street, New York, NY, USA.



One controversial source of infection for hepatitis C virus (HCV) involves the sharing of contaminated implements, such as straws or spoons, used to nasally inhale cocaine and other powdered drugs. An essential precondition for this mode of transmission is the presence of HCV in the nasal secretions of intranasal drug users.


Blood and nasal secretion samples were collected from five plasma-positive chronic intranasal drug users and tested for HCV RNA using RT-PCR.


HCV was detected in all five blood samples and in the nasal secretions of the subject with the highest serum viral load.


This study is the first to demonstrate the presence of HCV in nasal secretions. This finding has implications for potential transmission of HCV through contact with contaminated nasal secretions.

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