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Scand J Infect Dis. 1990;22(4):399-402.

Early appearance of antibodies to hepatitis C virus in community acquired acute non-A, non-B hepatitis is associated with progression to chronic liver disease. The Copenhagen Hepatitis Acuta Programme.

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Department of Immunology and Rheumatology, Hvidovre Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


24 consecutive patients (14 females; median age 36, range 18-77) with liver biopsy proven acute non-A, non-B hepatitis (NANBH) were assayed for antibodies to hepatitis C virus (HCV). 14 (58%) were positive initially or during follow-up. Three patients were positive within 4 weeks following onset of symptoms and 7 patients in a serum sample obtained 4-8 weeks after clinical onset. Seroconversion was documented in 7/8 patients in paired sera from the acute phase of the disease. Anti-HCV was detected in 6% and 13% of control patients with acute hepatitis A and toxic hepatitis. NANBH in 6/14 patients (43%) with anti-HCV progressed to chronic liver disease (CLD). In contrast none of the anti-HCV negative patients developed CLD (p = 0.02). In addition, 2 anti-HCV positive patients developed fulminant and fatal hepatitis. The predominant route of HCV transmission was intravenous drug abuse. It is concluded that hepatitis may be ascribed to HCV infection in more than half of patients with community aquired NANBH, that seroconversion occurs in the majority within 8 weeks following onset of symptoms and that seropositive individuals often progress to CLD.

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