Dr Marco Massari and colleagues used molecular fingerprinting analysis and epidemiological techniques to examine 4 recent cases of hepatitis C infection in patients at the same gynecology clinic.
Dr Massari identified the possible source of the infection as an HCV-positive woman, who was the first patient of a surgical session that also included the four other women involved in the outbreak.
All 5 patients were infected with hepatitis C virus type 1b.
Molecular characterization of HCV isolates in each patient revealed a close homology between the viral isolates of the suggested source of the infection and those from the outbreak patients.
Molecular characterization was achieved by sequence analysis of structural envelope regions and the nonstructural NS5 region of the viral genome.
Dr Massari's team also compared the viral isolates of the source with those from 4 unrelated cases of hepatitis C type 1b in the same area (controls).
|Transmission was by administration of propofol from multi-dose vials|
|Journal of Clinical Microbiology|
The controls were significantly less similar to the viral isolates of the source patient then isolates from the outbreak patients.
The investigation of the outbreak revealed that the virus was transmitted by administration of propofol from multi-dose vials.
Dr Massari concludes, "The study documents the risk of nosocomial transmission of HCV and the importance of infection control procedures in the operating room."
This research also highlights the role of molecular strategies in the investigation of HCV outbreaks.