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Keywords:

  • genotype;
  • incarceration;
  • transmission risk factor

Summary.  The eight genotypes of hepatitis B virus (HBV) exhibit distinct geographical distributions. This study identified HBV genotypes and transmission modes associated with acute infection in British Columbia (BC), Canada, from 2001 to 2005. Seventy cases of acute HBV in BC were identified from laboratory reports using a standardized case definition. Interviews for risk factors and hepatitis history were conducted for each case. HBV genotypes were determined by BLAST comparison analysis of the surface (S) or preS gene sequence. To illustrate the distribution of genotypes identified amongst acute cases in BC, an annotated map was produced showing the global occurrence of HBV genotypes. The majority of acute HBV cases occurred in Caucasian, Canadian-born males, with 30% of cases reporting injection drug use (IDU) and 21% reporting incarceration. The most common genotype observed was genotype D (62.9%), followed by genotypes A (18.6%), C (11.4%), B (4.3%), and E (1.4%). A significant association was observed between Genotype D and IDU (P = 0.0025) and previous incarceration (P = 0.0067). Phylogenetic analysis of the S gene sequence demonstrated identical or high genetic relatedness amongst genotype D viral strains (86% sub-genotype D3), thus verifying transmission clustering amongst BC injection drug users. The association between acute HBV genotype and reported transmission modes has not been previously described in North America. Tracking of genotypes can help identify disease transmission patterns and target at-risk populations for preventive immunization.