Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 24465895
PLoS ONE 2014;9(1):e86098
BACKGROUND: We propose a new approach based on genetic distances among viral strains to infer about risk exposures and location of transmission at population level.
METHODS: We re-analysed 133 viral sequences obtained during a cross-sectional survey of 4020 subjects living in a hepatitis C virus (HCV) endemic area in 2002. A permutation test was used to analyze the correlation between matrices of genetic distances in the NS5b region of all pairwise combinations of the 133 viral strains and exposure status (jointly exposed or not) to several potential HCV risk factors.
RESULTS: Compared to subjects who did not share the same characteristics or iatrogenic exposures, the median Kimura genetic distances of viral strains were significantly smaller between brothers and sisters (0.031 versus 0.102, P<0.001), mother and child (0.044 versus 0.102, P<0.001), father and child (0.045 versus 0.102, P<0.001), or subjects exposed to periodontal treatment (0.084 versus 0.102, P = 0.02). Conversely, viral strains were more divergent between subjects exposed to blood transfusions (0.216 versus 0.102, P = 0.04) or tooth filling or extraction (0.108, versus 0.097, P = 0.05), suggesting acquisition of the virus outside of the village.
CONCLUSION: This method provided insights on where infection took place (household, village) for several socio-demographic characteristics or iatrogenic procedures, information of great relevance for targeting prevention interventions. This method may have interesting applications for virologists and epidemiologists studying transmission networks in health-care facilities or among intravenous drug users.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24465895