Detection of hepatitis C virus antibodies and RNA among medicolegal autopsy cases in Northern France

Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2006 May;55(1):55-8. doi: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2005.10.018. Epub 2006 Feb 20.


Forensic medical personnel are at risk of exposure to blood-borne viruses including hepatitis C virus (HCV). The aim of this study was to determine prevalence of HCV markers among a cadaver population at the medicolegal institute in Lille. Seventy-seven consecutive cadavers were screened for antibodies to HCV and for HCV RNA. Positive results were confirmed by an immunoblot assay. Fifty-three cadavers had a histopathologic study. Anti-HCV was detected in 13 (16.9%) and accompanied by HCV RNA in 7 (9%) cases. The rate of HCV RNA detection among seropositive cases was 53.8%. Five cases had histopathologic lesions suggestive of hepatitis. This is the first HCV RNA screening in forensic cadavers. The results highlight the high prevalence rate of HCV cases in medicolegal practice in Lille. All forensic specimens should be treated as potentially infectious and universal precautions should be taken.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadaver
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • France
  • Genotype
  • Hepacivirus / genetics*
  • Hepacivirus / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C / transmission
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Infant
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control
  • RNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • RNA, Viral