Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Spread of Hepatitis C Linked to Unsafe Injection Practices in Egypt

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Spread of Hepatitis C Linked to Unsafe Injection Practices in Egypt

Article excerpt

A new study published in The Lancet has highlighted the role of parenteral antischistosomal therapy in the spread of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Egypt (Lancet, 2000, 355: 887-891). Egypt has an unusually high prevalence of hepatitis C resulting in high morbidity and mortality from liver disease. Approximately 20% of blood donors have been shown to be seropositive for antibodies to HCV in Egypt. This ecological study published in The Lancet claims that unsafe injection practices used in a mass campaign to eradicate schistosomiasis played a major role in spreading hepatitis C throughout Egypt.

Although oral therapeutic agents have been available since the 1980s, earlier treatments for schistosomiasis in Egypt involved repeated injections of potassium antimony tartrate. The recommended treatment was 12-16 intravenous injections and sterilisation procedures for reusable injection equipment were often insufficient or commonly omitted due to equipment and time constraints. The study suggests that these practices led to an outbreak of HCV infection, high prevalence among exposed cohorts, and the current high rates of HCV transmission. The authors go as far to say that Egypt's mass campaigns to eliminate schistosomiasis may represent the world's largest iatrogenic transmission of bloodborne pathogens to date. …

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