• genotype of HCV;
  • HBV;
  • local endemic area;
  • genetic analysis


Mass screening for hepatitis C virus antibody was carried out in 875 inhabitants (313 men and 562 women) of a town in Japan with a high rate of hepatitis B virus infection. The overall rate of positivity for anti-HCV was 8.8% (6.4% in men and 10,1% in women). The rate of positivity for hepatitis B virus surface antigen was 11.2%. Five subjects (0.6%) were positive for both markers. HCV-RNA was detected in 65 (88.4%) of 77 individuals who were positive for anti-HCV and in 1 (1.5%) of 60 individuals negative for anti-HCV. The genotype of the HCV genome was determined by PCR analysis using type-specific primers in 60 individuals. HCV type 1b was detected in 51 subjects (85%), type 2a in 3 subjects (5%), and type 2b in 6 subjects (10%). None of the individuals was infected with more than one genotype. The nucleotide sequences of the partial nonstructural 5 region of HCV type 1b genotype obtained from 6 individuals showed at least 92.0% homology in the nucleotide sequence, and 94.8% homology in the amino acid sequence. Homology among these clones was greater than their homology with previously described type 1 b sequences. The findings suggest that there was a specific local origin of HCV infection, although it was not possible to identify any single source of HCV infection. The results also indicate the presence of asymptomatic HCV carriers. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.