• polymerase chain reaction;
  • nucleic acid sequencing;
  • hospital infection;
  • renal failure;
  • hepatitis C virus


Three cases of simultaneous seroconversion to hepatitis C virus (HCV) in a hemodialysis unit initiated the investigation of the viral strains of 14 seropositive patients in the unit by nucleotide sequencing. The results showed that five patients had been infected with the same viral strain, and indicated that two other patients were sharing a second strain. Transmission was not related to blood transfusions and not associated with the dialysis machines, but occurred between patients treated on the same shift. The number of cases was higher than expected from the serological data. Thus, spread of virus may occur at high frequencies in environments where parenteral routes are made accessible, in spite of rigorous preventive measures. This may raise concern that non-transfusion associated spread of HCV may be present and unnoticed in several hospital settings. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.