Background: From November 2011 to January 2012, a number of clustering cases of HCV infection were reported in Zijin County, Heyuan City, Guangdong, China. Most patients in the clustering cases suspected that they could be infected due to inappropriate medical care in the clinic located at the Xiangshui road. However, the molecular epidemiology of the clustering cases remains unknown. Methodology: The residents, living at Xiangshui Road, with HCV antibody positive reported from 2011 and 2012 were recruited. A survey of the HCV infected individuals from the clustering cases was conducted. Each participant underwent a questionnaire defining demographic characteristics and health care history. HCV serological test and viral load test were performed to confirm the infection status. Molecular phylogenetic analysis and Bayesian coalescence analysis were conducted to further confirm the HCV subtype distribution and to reconstruct the associated demographic history and time-scaled phylogeny among the clustering cases. Principal Findings: The molecular phylogenetic analysis revealed that only two HCV subtypes, 2a and 6a, were found among the clustering cases. There was no close HCV subtype evolutionary relation was observed among patients from the same family. The 6a cluster showed higher viral loads than the 2a cluster. In addition, the Bayesian skyline plot analysis showed that both the HCV 2a and 6a subtype infections among the Heyuan cases experienced an "expansion-diminishment- expansion" featured dissemination. The 2a clustering infection occurred in 2004, and the 6a clustering cases originated in 2006. Conclusions: The molecular epidemiological characters imply that the inappropriate medical practices were possibly associated with the clustering HCV cases in Heyuan City during 2011, 2012. Latent HCV subtypes 2a and 6a infection may cause the prevalence and become a new public health issue in Guangdong, China. © 2013 Kuang et al.
Kuang, Y. Q., Yan, J., Li, Y., Huang, X., Wang, Y., Yu, G., … Lin, P. (2013). Molecular epidemiologic characterization of a clustering HCV infection caused by inappropriate medical care in Heyuan City of Guangdong, China. PLoS ONE, 8(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0082304