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Reuters Health Information (2007-03-01): Sweating may spread hepatitis B virus during contact sports


Sweating may spread hepatitis B virus during contact sports

Last Updated: 2007-03-01 14:07:15 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Findings from a study of Olympic wrestlers suggest that sweating may be a way of transmitting hepatitis B virus (HBV) during participation in contact sports.

Bleeding wounds and mucous membranes have been implicated in HBV transmission during contact sports, but it has also been hypothesized that the virus could be spread through contact with sweat. However, until now, no study had looked at levels of HBV DNA in sweat in either a clinical or athletic setting.

The present study, released Thursday ahead of print in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, involved 70 male Olympic wrestlers who had serum and sweat samples tested for HBV DNA.

HBV surface antigen was not detected in any of the wrestlers, study author Dr. S. Bereket-Yucel, from Celal Bayar University in Izmir, Turkey, notes. However, the presence of serum HBV DNA indicated that 9 (13%) of the wrestlers had an occult HBV infection.

In eight of the serum-positive subjects, HBV DNA was also detected in sweat. Further analysis showed a significant correlation between the HBV DNA levels in blood and sweat.

"Evidence is emerging that the incidence of occult HBV in Olympic wrestling is higher than expected and that transmission of HBV may also occur through sweat," the researcher concludes. "The advice of sports organizations about HBV testing should be changed, making it obligatory for all participants involved in contact sports and playing under adult rules to be vaccinated against hepatitis B."

Br J Sports Med 2007.

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