• delta hepatitis;
  • hepatitis D virus

ABSTRACT— In 614 HBsAg-positive Yugoslavian patients, radioimmunoassay testing for anti-delta showed the presence of this antibody in serum in 11.2%. Of the patients, 213 belonged to a risk group (i.v. drug users, hemophiliacs, hemodialysed patients and patients with posttransfusion hepatitis); a significant number of these patients (63; 29.6%) were found to have anti-delta. A second group was composed of 401 HBsAg-positive patients from the general population (patients with acute hepatitis B, with fulminant hepatitis B and patients with chronic HBV infection); delta infection was found only in six (1.5%). Immunohistochemical methods failed to demonstrate the delta antigen in the livers of 73 patients with chronic HBV infection. Testing the liver of 36 patients with fulminant hepatitis B for delta antigen demonstrated this reactivity in only one (2.8%) liver sample. Delta antigen was also found in the liver of a female patient who underwent biopsy in 1972. The results of this study suggest the HDV is not endemic in Yugoslavia; however, it is frequently found in patients at risk of blood exposure, primarily i.v. drug users.