A new cluster of hepatitis A infection in hemophiliacs traced to a contaminated plasma pool

J Med Virol. 1999 Feb;57(2):91-9. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9071(199902)57:2<91::aid-jmv1>3.0.co;2-l.


Recently, several clusters of hepatitis A have been observed among hemophiliacs linked to factor VIII concentrates treated for virus inactivation solely with the solvent/detergent (S/D) method, a procedure that does not affect nonenveloped viruses such as the hepatitis A virus (HAV). A new outbreak of hepatitis A in six hemophiliacs treated with the same lot of a factor VIII preparation occurred recently in Germany. The objective of the study was to clarify whether these diseases were caused by the administration of the S/D-treated plasma product, rather than a community-acquired infection. Polymerase chain reactions designed to detect HAV nucleic acid have been carried out in the implicated factor VIII lots, in the corresponding plasma pools, and in serum samples of four out of six infected individuals. The nucleic acid sequences were determined in samples that resulted in positive amplification products. HAV sequences were found in one of the two plasma pools used for manufacture of the incriminated product, in the incriminated lot itself, and in all recipient sera tested so far, although the latter were collected up to 7 weeks after the onset of jaundice. The sequences obtained were completely identical, revealing a unique HAV strain of genotype IA. This study provides conclusive evidence that hepatitis A can be transmitted by factor VIII concentrates treated solely by the S/D procedure for virus inactivation. This inactivation method is not effective against nonenveloped viruses. Since a number of hepatitis A transmission episodes have been described with such preparations during the past 10 years, their continued use seems to be questionable unless additional virus removal or inactivation steps are introduced to prevent the transmission of nonenveloped viruses. Molecular approaches again proved to be reliable tools for elucidating the chain of virus transmission.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood-Borne Pathogens / isolation & purification
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Factor VIII / adverse effects*
  • Genotype
  • Germany
  • Hemophilia A / complications*
  • Hemophilia A / virology
  • Hepatitis A / complications
  • Hepatitis A / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis A / etiology*
  • Hepatitis A / virology
  • Hepatovirus / genetics
  • Hepatovirus / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Structural Proteins / genetics
  • von Willebrand Diseases / complications
  • von Willebrand Diseases / virology


  • RNA, Viral
  • VP1 protein, hepatitis A virus
  • Viral Proteins
  • Viral Structural Proteins
  • Factor VIII