Document Type

Article

Department

Biological and Biomedical Sciences

Abstract

Background: On October 8, 2005, an earthquake of magnitude 7.6 hit the Northern parts of Pakistan. In the post-earthquake scenario, overcrowding, improper sewage disposal, contamination of food and drinking water, hasty surgical procedures, and unscreened blood transfusions to earthquake victims most likely promotes the spread of infections already prevalent in the area. Objective: The objective of the study reported here was to determine the prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency and Hepatitis C viruses (respectively, HIV and HCV) in the earthquake-affected communities of Pakistan. The samples were analyzed 2 months and then again 11 months after the earthquake to estimate the burden of HIV and HCV in these areas, and to determine any rise in the prevalence of these viral infections as a result of the earthquake. Methods: Blood samples were initially collected during December, 2005 to March 2006, from 245 inhabitants of the earthquake-affected areas. These samples were screened for HCV and HIV, using immunochromatography and Enzyme-Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay (ELISA). Results: Out of 245 samples tested, 8 (3.26%) were found positive for HCV, and 0 (0.0%) for HIV, indicating the existence of HCV infection in the earthquake-stricken areas. The same methods were used to analyze the samples collected in the second round of screening in the same area, in September, 2006 - 11 months after the earthquake. This time 290 blood samples were collected, out of which 16 (5.51%) samples were positive for HCV, and 0 for HIV. Conclusion: A slightly higher prevalence of HCV was recorded 11 months after the earthquake, this increase, however, was not statistically significant. None of the study participants was found HIV-infected.

Publication

BMC Infectious Diseases

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