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Abstract

Outbreaks of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are associated with unsafe injection practices, intravenous drug abuse and other exposure to blood and body fluids. We report here three outbreaks of HCV infection from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) State, India, which occurred over a period of 3 years and in which molecular epidemiological investigations identified a presumptive common source of infection, most likely a single healthcare venue. Representative blood samples collected from cases of hepatitis C were sent to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for molecular characterization. These samples were positive by HCV ELISA. Subsequently, specimens were also tested for the presence of HCV RNA by RT-PCR. Sequencing was carried out for all positive samples. A total of 812 cases were laboratory confirmed by HCV ELISA; a total of 115 samples were sent to the NCDC for RT-PCR, and 77 were positive. Subtype 3a of HCV was found in all samples from Anantnag (February 2013); and for subtype 3b, in all samples from Srinagar (May 2015). Subtypes 3a and 3g were identified from two samples from the Kulgam outbreak (July 2014). A detailed epidemiological investigation should be conducted whenever a cluster of HCV cases is revealed, as this potentially allows for the identification of larger outbreaks. Epidemiological investigations of outbreaks should be further supported by inclusion of molecular tests. Efforts to limit therapeutic injections to only those cases having strong medical/surgical indications and to restrict the use of non-sterile needles are essential to prevent transmission of HCV.

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2016-08-01
2021-07-28
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