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Clinical Observation
September 11, 2000

Horizontal Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus Among Players of an American Football Team

Author Affiliations

From the Health and Medical Center, Okayama University (Drs Tobe, Matsuura, and Ogura), Okayama Prefectural Hospital (Dr Tsuo), and the First Department of Internal Medicine, Okayama University Medical School (Drs Iwasaki, Mizuno, Yamamoto, Higashi, and Tsuji), Okayama, Japan.

Arch Intern Med. 2000;160(16):2541-2545. doi:10.1001/archinte.160.16.2541

Eleven cases of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection (5 cases of acute hepatitis B and 6 of subclinical infection) were detected among 65 members of our university's American football team during a period of 19 months. All tested positive for antibody to the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) or core antigen (HBcAg). The incidence of HBV infection among team members (20.4%) was significantly higher (P<.001) than among students who tested positive for andibody to HBsAg throughout the university (1.8%). We also detected a single carrier of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) on the team. Analysis of HBsAg subtypes in 3 of 5 players with acute hepatitis B indicated that their subtype (adr) was identical to that of the HBeAg carrier. All players with acute hepatitis B belonged to the same training group, which also included the HBeAg carrier. Our analysis suggests that horizontal transmission of HBV can occur even in a sports team, probably due to contact with open wounds during training.