An Epidemiological Study of HBV, HCV and HTLV-I in Sherpas of Nepal


An epidemiological study of hepatitis viruses type B (HBV) and type C (HCV) and human T-cell leukemia virus ‍type I (HTLV-I) was carried out among 103 residents (male:female=61:42) regarded as Sherpas, at Lukla (Solukhumbu ‍district), Nepal in 2004. Blood was drawn from apparently healthy volunteers at ages of 28.8+12.3 (range 15-66) ‍years. HBsAg, HBsAb, HBcAb, and HCV Ab were measured by microparticle enzyme-immunoassay, and HTLV-I ‍Ab was measured by particle agglutination. Prevalence of HBsAg(+), HBsAb(+), HBcAb(+), and HBsAb(+) or ‍HBcAb(+) were 1.9% 22.3%, 24.3%, and 28.2%, respectively. For HCV Ab, only a borderline reaction was observed ‍in one sample, and for HTLV-I Ab all samples were negative. Nucleotide sequencing of the PreS1, PreS2, and S genes ‍revealed that HBV among Sherpas to be of the A’ (or Aa) genotype, which is prevalent among Nepalese but rare in ‍native Tibetans, suggesting transmission within Nepal rather than association with ancestors’ migration from Tibet ‍as the origin. This is the first r eport of Himalayan Sherpas’ state of infection with HBV , HCV, and HTLV-I. ‍