A phylogenetic-tree analysis elucidating nosocomial transmission of hepatitis C virus in a haemodialysis unit


Dr Toshinobu Horii, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, 1-20-1 Handa-yama, Hamamatsu 431–3192, Japan. E-mail: horiihm@hama-med.ac.jp


summary. Nosocomial transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) subtype 1b involving 11 haemodialysis patients occurred in a haemodialysis unit in Japan in March 2000. Sequencing of the HCV-E1 region (411-bp) and phylogenetic-tree analysis showed near identity between HCV isolates derived from these patients and a haemodialysis patient who was known to be HCV-positive. The mode of transmission could not be conclusively established, but retrospective analysis suggested that the sharing of contaminated multidose vials of heparin-saline solutions, which were prepared in the Haemodialysis Center using accidentally contaminated instruments such as needles, may have been responsible for the outbreak. To prevent transmission of HCV in a haemodialysis unit, it may be important to observe strictly standard precautions and to prepare all medications in the Pharmacy. After these measures were taken, no new seroconversions and no new nosocomial transmissions of HCV have been observed in our haemodialysis unit.