Detection of hepatitis C virus-RNA by polymerase chain reaction in dental surgeries

J Med Virol. 1995 Jan;45(1):40-2. doi: 10.1002/jmv.1890450108.


The mean prevalence of anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Italy is 0.87%. It reaches 2% in Campania, Southern Italy. Approximately 50% of community acquired non-A, non-B (NANB) hepatitis cannot be associated with known parenteral exposure. A recent Italian study has shown that the only demonstrable risk factor in 9% of acute C/NANB hepatitis is dental treatment. There are no data on direct contamination by HCV of dental surgeries. Possible environmental contamination by HCV-RNA was investigated in dental surgeries after treatment of anti-HCV and HCV-RNA positive patients. Thirty-five anti-HCV and HCV-RNA positive patients with chronic hepatitis underwent dental treatment and were enrolled in this study. Eight had chronic persistent hepatitis (CPH), 23 chronic active hepatitis (CAH), and 4 cirrhosis. A total of 328 samples collected from instruments and surfaces were tested after dental treatment of 35 anti-HCV positive patients. The presence of HCV-RNA was determined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to evaluate contamination of instruments and surfaces in dental surgeries. Twenty (6.1%) out of 328 collected samples were positive for HCV-RNA. The positive samples were from work benches (two), air turbine handpieces (one), holders (four), suction units (one), forceps (four), dental mirrors (two), and burs (six). Our data indicate that there is extensive contamination by HCV of dental surgeries after treatment of anti-HCV patients and that if sterilisation and disinfection are inadequate there is the possible risk of transmission to susceptible individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Dental Care for Chronically Ill*
  • Dental Equipment*
  • Equipment Contamination*
  • Hepacivirus / immunology
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification*
  • Hepatitis Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis C / immunology
  • Hepatitis C / transmission
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Viral / analysis*


  • Hepatitis Antibodies
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • RNA, Viral