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Abstract

The prevalences of hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis delta virus and hepatitis A virus infections were studied in two regions of Colombia. In Bogota, 10 of 53 patients with acute hepatitis were HBsAg positive and three of these were hepatitis D antigen positive. Hepatitis A virus was the major cause of acute hepatitis in this group. In 366 healthy controls from Bogota, 1.6% were HBsAg positive and 7.1% had at least one marker of HBV infection. In northern Colombia, individuals from three villages with outbreaks of the fulminant “hepatitis of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta” were tested. The prevalences of HBsAg (1.8 to 23%) and HBV infection (35 to 93%) were generally high and varied from village to village; 60% of the HBsAg carriers in one village were positive for antibody to hepatitis D antigen, and two individuals in the outbreak area had circulating hepatitis D antigen. The findings suggest that HBV and the associated hepatitis delta virus are etiologic factors in the “hepatitis of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta”.