Virus-like particles, approximately 27 nm in diameter, were identified in faeces from an Indian patient with enterically transmitted non-A, non-B (ENANB) hepatitis. They were serologically distinct from hepatitis A virus (HAV). Nucleic acid extracted from the particles did not hybridise with cDNA probes representing the genomes of HAV, enteroviruses, and cardioviruses. Chimpanzees were experimentally inoculated with faecal suspensions containing this 27 nm particle or with faeces from another case of ENANB hepatitis. Mild histological and biochemical hepatitis developed in these animals and there was serological evidence of infection with the virus-like particle as shown by immunoelectronmicroscopy (IEM). Serological analysis by IEM suggested that this agent or an antigenically similar virus was the aetiological agent of two epidemics and a sporadic case of ENANB hepatitis in India and of an epidemic of the illness in the USSR. Antibody to the particle was found in sera from patients with ENANB hepatitis from various geographic areas over a 30-year period.
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