DNA Single Strand Conformation Polymorphism Identifies Five Defined Strains of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) During an Outbreak of HBV Infection in an Oncology Unit

DNA Single Strand Conformation Polymorphism Identifies Five Defined Strains of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) During an Outbreak of HBV Infection in an Oncology Unit

DNA Single Strand Conformation Polymorphism Identifies Five Defined Strains of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) During an Outbreak of HBV Infection in an Oncology Unit

Abstract

An outbreak of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in a children’s oncology unit was identified in which 61 children were shown to have been infected, 59 of them asymptomatically. In order to establish whether intra-unit cross infection had occurred, we used the single strand conformationalpolymorphism (SSCP) technique to analyse viral isolates from 57 of the infected children and 40 unrelated controls. HBV-specific primers were designed to amplify a 189 bp fragment of DNA encompassing part of the hypervariable pre-S1 region of the HBV genome. Denatured PCR products were compared after electrophoresis through polyacrylamide gels and staining with silver. By SSCP analysis, the unrelated infections each yielded a unique electrophoretic banding pattern, indicative of a variety of distinct virus strains. In contrast, most of the oncology patients had been infected with one of only five different strains. Three major groups comprising 19, 16, and 9 patients, respectively, and two minor groups of 5 and 3 patients were identified. Results indicate the occurrence of multiple episodes of cross infection, and demonstrate the sensitivity and value of SSCP as a technique to establish common sources of infection.

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