Transmission rates of hepatitis C virus by different batches of a contaminated anti-D immunoglobulin preparation.
Lawlor E., Power J., Garson J., Yap P., Davidson F., Columb G., Smith D., Pomeroy L., O'Riordan J., Simmonds P., Tedder R.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine the hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection rate of recipients of different batches of anti-D immunoglobulin associated with an outbreak of HCV infection which occurred in 1977 and its relationship to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) status of the implicated batches. This study was undertaken to determine the predictive value of HCV genome detection and quantification for subsequent infection in recipients of an HCV-contaminated anti-D immunoglobulin product for intravenous use. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sera from recipients of anti-D were tested by HCV enzyme immunoassay and if found positive were subsequently tested by recombinant immunoblot assay and HCV PCR in a national HCV anti-D screening programme set up in 1994. The HCV status of 1,342 known recipients of infectious or potentially infectious batches has been compared to the amount of HCV RNA in the anti-D batch they received so as to determine the value of PCR in the prediction of infectivity in immunoglobulin preparations. RESULTS: It has been demonstrated that HCV-infected plasma derived from batches of anti-D showing levels of viral genome in excess of 10(4) genomes per millilitre led to infection of up to 60% of recipients. In contrast, batches with undetectable levels of HCV genome very rarely transmitted infection. CONCLUSIONS: The presence of HCV RNA in intravenous immunoglobulin preparations which have not undergone a specific viral inactivation step is a predictor of HCV infection in recipients.