Background ang objectives: The epidemiology of hepatitis A, E, B and C was analyzed in 1,393 children living in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. They were distributed in two groups according to the social condition. Materials and method: 1,393 children were selected from two different schools: one attended by children belonging to a high social class of the town (group A), and the other school attended by children belonging to the poorest social class (group B). Blood samples were drawn by a team of physicians from Rome University La Sapienza. Serum antibodies against hepatitis A, B, C and E virus, and the hepatitis B surface antigen were evaluated by immunometric methods. The significance was evaluated using the χ2 test. Results: Antibodies against hepatitis A virus were detected in 82% of examined children, with a significant difference between the two groups (56.3% vs 94.8%). The incidence of anti-HBc antibodies increased with age, so the infection is acquired prevalently in adolescence with a significant difference between both groups (1.1% vs 3.8%). The same phenomenon was observed with anti-HCV antibodies (4.7% positivity only in group B). Serum antibodies against hepatitis E virus were observed in 1.7% cases. Conclusions: In Bolivia, as in other developing countries, viral hepatitis represents a serious burden for public health. Spreading of viral hepatitis can be controlled upon improving hygienic conditions and customs. Moreover, a vaccination plan against hepatitis A and B virus is necessary for the population living in endemic areas.
- Viral hepatitis
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