1887

Abstract

Blood samples (=544) from two different populations (Pygmies and Bantus) in Cameroon, West Africa, were analysed. Serological tests indicated that the anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence in Bantus (20·3 %) was higher than that in Pygmies (2·3 %, <0·0001), whereas the distribution of hepatitis B virus (HBV) serological markers was equally high in both populations: in total, 9·4, 17·3 and 86·8 % for HBsAg, anti-HBs and anti-HBc, respectively. HBV genotype A (HBV/A) and HBV/E were predominant (43·5 % each) in both populations, and HBV/D was found in a minority (13 %). The preS/S region was sequenced in nine cases (five HBV/A and four HBV/E) and the complete genome in six cases (four HBV/A and two HBV/E). Subsequent phylogenetic analysis revealed that the HBV/A strains were distinct from the subtypes (subgenotypes) described previously, Ae (A2) and Aa (A1), and in the preS/S region they clustered with previously reported sequences from Cameroon. Based on the nucleotide difference from Aa (A1) and Ae (A2), more than 4 % in the complete genome, the Cameroonian strains were suggested to represent a new subtype (subgenotype), designated HBV/Ac (A3). A high (3·9 %) nucleotide divergence in HBV/Ac (A3) strains suggested that the subtype (subgenotype) has a long natural history in the population of Cameroon. One of the HBV/Ac (A3) strains was found to be a recombinant with an HBV/E-specific sequence in the polymerase reverse transcriptase domain. Further cohort studies will be required to assess detailed epidemiological, virological and clinical characteristics of HBV/Ac (A3), as well as its recombinant form.

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2005-07-01
2019-10-21
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