Fulminant hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in an infant following mother-to-child transmission of an e-minus HBV mutant: Time to relook at HBV prophylaxis in South African infants
The prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in pregnant women is high in South Africa (SA), yet prophylaxis to prevent motherto-child transmission (MTCT) falls short of international recommendations. We describe a 10-week-old infant who developed fulminant hepatic failure following MTCT. The mother was hepatitis e-antibody positive and had a viral load of only 760 IU/mL. Genetic analysis of virus from mother and infant showed that both had the G1896A mutation in the preC/C gene, which truncates hepatitis e antigen (HBeAg) during translation, causing an HBeAg-negative phenotype. HBeAg attenuates antiviral immune responses, and its absence was probably responsible for the infant’s fulminant hepatitis, due to an uncontrolled immune attack on infected liver cells. Pregnant women are not tested for HBV infection in SA and MTCT rates are unknown. Addition of a birth dose of vaccine, HBV screening of pregnant women and antiviral prophylaxis to positive mothers should be prioritised.
Copyright remains in the Author’s name. The work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial Works License. Authors are required to complete and sign an Author Agreement form that outlines Author and Publisher rights and terms of publication. The Agreement form should be uploaded along with other submissions files and any submission will be considered incomplete without it [forthcoming].
Material submitted for publication in the SAMJ is accepted provided it has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. Please inform the editorial team if the main findings of your paper have been presented at a conference and published in abstract form, to avoid copyright infringement. The SAMJ does not hold itself responsible for statements made by the authors.
Previously published images
If an image/figure has been previously published, permission to reproduce or alter it must be obtained by the authors from the original publisher and the figure legend must give full credit to the original source. This credit should be accompanied by a letter indicating that permission to reproduce the image has been granted to the author/s. This letter should be uploaded as a supplementary file during submission.