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Genetic Diversity of Hepatitis B and C Viruses in Gabon

Viral hepatitis remains one of the largest public health concerns worldwide. Especially in Central Africa, information on hepatitis virus infections has been limited, although the prevalence in this region has been reported to be higher than the global average.

To reveal the current status of hepatitis B and C virus (HBV and HCV) infections and the genetic diversity of the viruses, researchers conducted longitudinal surveillance in Gabon. They detected 22 HBV and 9 HCV infections in 2047 patients with febrile illness. Genetic analyses of HBV identified subgenotype A1 for the first time in Gabon and an insertion generating a frameshift to create an X-preC/C fusion protein. Researchers also revealed that most of the detected HCVs belonged to the “Gabon-specific” HCV subtype 4e (HCV-4e), and the entire nucleotide sequence of the HCV-4e polyprotein was determined to establish the first reference sequence. The HCV-4e strains possessed resistance-associated substitutions similar to those of other HCV-4 strains, indicating that the use of direct-acting antiviral therapy may be complex.

The results provided a better understanding of the current situation of hepatitis B and C virus infections in Central Africa and will help public health organizations develop effective countermeasures to eliminate chronic viral hepatitis in this region.

Access the full study, published in Microorganisms, here.