Initial report of a hepatitis investigation in rural Belize

Kenneth J. Hoffman*, Joel C. Gaydos, J. Fred Duncan, Llewellyn J. Legters, Richard E. Krieg, Ruth Jaramillo, Linda G. Reyes, Llewellyn J. Legters, Philip O. MacArthy, John R. Ticehurst, Maria H. Sjogren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In spring 1991, Belizian health officials expressed concern about a possible hepatitis outbreak in a banana farming district. A study was designed to identify cases and to address the serological prevalence of hepatitis virus markers. Three populations were studied: (i) persons meeting a clinical case definition for hepatitis; (ii) designated banana workers; and (iii) people in a random sample of households in the community. Information was collected using questionnaires and sera were collected for laboratory testing. This report presents the preliminary results of a study conducted in June 1991. Among people who met the clinical case definition, 24% of 42 tested had immunoglobulin M antibody to hepatitis B virus (HBV) core antigen (anti-HBc IgM). In the worker and household survey populations, 284 and 280 people, respectively, were tested for anti-HBc IgM. In each group, 4% were positive. HBV surface antigen was found in 37% of 43 clinical cases, 18% of workers, and 13% of people in the household survey. Among the 3 study populations, the prevalence of HBV core antibody (anti-HBc) ranged from 73% to 81%. Almost all tested persons had evidence of prior hepatitis A virus infection. Evidence of prior infection with hepatitis viruses A and B was widespread, but an aetiology could not be established for most of the clinical cases. However, the prevalence of hepatitis B markers in this population was very high compared to other reports from the Caribbean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-262
Number of pages4
JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1993
Externally publishedYes


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