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Indian J Med Res. 2006 Jun;123(6):760-9.

Molecular characterization of hepatitis A virus from a large outbreak from Kerala, India.

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National Institute of Virology, Pune, India.



Hepatitis A is highly prevalent in India and mainly presents as a sporadic disease. This study investigated an outbreak of viral hepatitis at Medical College Hospital area, Kottayam, Kerala state, India during January 2005.


Blood (133), faecal (1), sewage (4), and water samples (13) were collected. Sera were tested for IgG- and IgM-anti-HAV and IgM antibodies against hepatitis E (IgM-anti-HEV). Sewage, faeces and water samples were tested for HAV RNA in nested RT-PCR and HAV RNA positive samples were further processed for RNA quantitation using Real Time PCR.


Of the 1180 total cases, 540 were reported from Medical college area. Two deaths were reported among doctors. Patients from the community gave a previous history of visit to medical college hospital area. The sewage treatment plant at the campus was non-functional since 1990 and the untreated sewage was constantly overflowing and getting mixed with a canal. At the time of the study, all the water sources were superchlorinated. HAV RNA was present in the faeces of hepatitis A patient (1.36 x 10(7) copies/ml), sewage tank (2.57 x 10(3) copies/ml and the canal (<100 copies/ml). None of the 13 water samples concentrated 10,000-fold and the soil sample showed presence of HAV RNA. Phylogenetic analysis based on 5'-non-coding and P2 regions showed HAV-genotype IIIA in all samples.


The aetiological agent of the present outbreak was found to be HAV. Epidemic hepatitis A (genotype-IIIA) is emerging in Indian adults, emphasizing the need for definite policy for control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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