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Prevalence of hepatitis C antibody in hospital personnel

Mihály, Ilona M.D., Lukács, Adrienne M.D., Telegdy, László M.D. and Ibrányi, Endre M.D.

The health-care workers are known to be at risk of occupational transmission of blood-borne viruses. The goal of the investigation was to determine the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody and the occupational risk of HCV transmission among personnel at the Central Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Budapest, Hungary. Serum samples of 409 health-care workers were tested for antibody to HCV with second and third generation ELISA-s and anti-HCV positive samples were confirmed with Western Blot Line EIA. A total of 10 (2.4°!0) of the health-care workers were confirmed to be anti-HCV positive. The prevalence of anti-HCV increased with advancing age: zero under 20 yr. age group (N = 0lIS), 0.9% in 21-30 yr. age group (N = 1/112), 1.8% in 31-40 yr. age group (N = 2l111), 3.1% in 41-50 yr. age group (N = 3196) and 4.0% in above 50 yr. age group (N = 3/75). We found anti-HCV positive hospital worker in 9 out of 17 departments. The prevalence of hepatitis C antibody was 7.1-1.9% among the personnel of internal departments, pathology, intensive care unit and pediatric departments. No anti-HCV positive healthcare worker was found in the surgery and laboratories. None of the physicians tested was seropositive for HCV Eight of the nurses, one of the sanitary personnel and one pathological technician were seropositive for HCV. Two nurses developed a chronic C hepatitis after a needle puncture accident.

1. The hospital personnel is at risk for HCV infection.
2. The occupational risk of HCV infection increases with age but the risk is considerable lower than that of hepatitis B infection.
3. The occupational risk is highest among the workers of the chronic internal department, pathology and intensive care unit.
4. The nurses are at higher risk of HCV infection than the physicians.
5. The needle puncture injuries associated with an increased risk for acquiring HCV infection.

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