1887

Abstract

TT virus is a newly described agent infecting humans. Initially isolated from a patient (initials T.T.) with unexplained hepatitis, the virus has since been found in both normal and diseased individuals. In the present study, we utilized genomic-length sequences from distinct genotypes of TT virus to design PCR-based assays using conserved oligonucleotide primers from three independent regions of the virus genome. Each of the three assays was found to be superior to the PCR-based assays previously published. The most sensitive of the new assays was utilized to demonstrate the prevalence of TT virus to be at least 34·1% in volunteer blood donors, 39·6% in commercial blood donors, 59·6% in non-A–GB hepatitis cases, 81·7% in injectable drug users and 95·9% in haemophiliacs. In an attempt to identify a possible source of human infection, we found TT virus sequences to be present in 19% of chickens, 20% of pigs, 25% of cows and 30% of sheep. Sequence determination and phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that isolates from farm animals were not genetically distinct from those found in humans. This study clearly demonstrates that previously reported PCR assays dramatically underestimate the true prevalence of TT virus within the human population. Due to the high rate of infection in both blood donors and those with non-A–GB hepatitis, these results question the causal role of TT virus in cases of unexplained hepatitis. Further, it is possible that domesticated farm animals serve as a source of human infection.

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/content/journal/jgv/10.1099/0022-1317-80-8-2115
1999-08-01
2019-10-20
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