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August 21, 1972

Serum Hepatitis With "Masked" Australia Antigen

JAMA. 1972;221(8):916-917. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200210060024

To the Editor.—  The Australia antigen has been associated with both "serum" and "infectious" hepatitis, and many laboratories are using reaction electrophoresis to detect the antigen.1-4 Our case report points out a source of error that 'has apparently been unrecognized in the past.

Report of a Case.—  A 21-year-old white, male, college student entered the Abington Memorial Hospital with a history of intermittent nausea and vomiting of two weeks' duration, and dark urine, light-colored stools, pruritus, hives, and joint pains during the week prior to admission. He gave a history of bimonthly abuse of heroin, administered intravenously, and on two occasions had shared a needle with several individuals who had developed viral hepatitis. The patient was icteric and had a tender liver 13 cm in breadth in the midclavicular line.The hemoglobin level was 15.3 gm/100 ml. The serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase was greater than 1.500μ/ml; lactic dehydrogenase level