Background We previously reported high prevalence of hepatitis C virus genotype 5a (HCV 5) (14%) in Central France.
Aim To identify the risk factors associated with HCV5 infection and to characterize local HCV5 lineages.
Method A case-control study and phylogenetic analysis were conducted.
Results In all, 131 HCV5 and 343 HCV non 5 infected patients were enrolled. No HCV5 patient was born in sub-Saharan Africa and only two were injection drug user. HCV5 contamination was associated with living in a rural area called Vic le Comte (VLC) in non-transfused patients (OR = 17.7), with transfusion in patients living outside VLC (OR = 3.8) and with receiving injections in patients from VLC (OR = 3.1). More than 80% of the patients from outside VLC were contaminated by transfusion and those from VLC mainly by an iatrogenic factor – injections performed before 1972 by the local physician. Phylogenetic analysis of HCV5 isolates evidenced no distinct genetic cluster, but close relationships between the isolates of spouse pairs and between blood donors and recipients.
Conclusions Our results suggest that HCV5 spread in our district by iatrogenic route before 1972 and then via transfusion to the whole district. Collaborative studies are underway to study viral sequences from different parts of Africa and Europe to estimate the origin of our HCV 5a strains.