Serologic markers for delta agent were evaluated in 39 patients with acute hepatitis B and clinical relapse within 30 days from the initial episode. Eighteen of the 39 patients (46%) had evidence of acute delta infection. Delta antigenaemia preceded the appearance of antibodies in seven of these 18 patients; delta antigenaemia occurred during the initial episode of illness and the appearance of the antibody coincided with the relapse. Eight of these patients developed severe relapse with fulminant course which resulted in two deaths. This study reveals that delta infection is one of the important causes of severe relapse in cases of acute B viral hepatitis.
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