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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 (US)
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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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