Hepatitis B virus attacks the liver and can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death.
Dr Bereket and colleagues from Turkey investigated the prevalence of Hepatitis B virus and occult Hepatitis B virus infection in Turkish Olympic wrestlers.
In addition, the researchers examined the relationship between Hepatitis B virus DNA values in sweat and blood.
The research team recruited a total of 70 male Olympic wrestlers as the study sample.
|Over 33% had bleeding during training|
|British Journal of Sports Medicine|
The researchers found that none of the Olympic wrestlers carried Hepatitis B surface antigen in this study.
The wrestlers, who were all aged between 18 and 30, were all asked about injuries, as blood-borne infection is a common route of transmission.
Over 33% had bleeding or weeping wounds during training and competition.
The team noted that almost half of the wrestlers had an episode of bleeding during other activities.
None of the wrestlers had active Hepatitis B infection, as evidenced by a lack of antibodies to the virus.
However, the virus itself was found in the blood in 13% of the wrestlers.
The team observed that 11% of the participants had Hepatitis B virus DNA in their sweat.
The researchers suggested that they had hidden or occult infection.
There was a significant relationship between Hepatitis B virus DNA values in the blood and sweat of the wrestlers.
Dr Bereket's team conclude, “In addition to bleeding wounds and mucous membranes, sweating may be another way of transmitting Hepatitis B virus infections in contact sports.”
“A Hepatitis B virus test should be done and each wrestler should be vaccinated at the start of his career.”
“Some sporting bodies have ruled that HIV testing should be mandatory for all contact sport competitors, but no such recommendations have been made for Hepatitis B.”
“Hepatitis B is far more transmissible, because much higher levels of the virus are found in the blood and it is not as fragile as HIV.”
Editor Roy Pounder commented, “All sports players ought to have Hepatitis B vaccinations".