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Prevalence of HCV in healthcare workers

 

Clinical bottom line

The prevalence of HCV antibodies in Belgian healthcare workers was 0.4%. This is lower than in the general population (0.9%). Larger or metropolitan hospitals can have prevalence rates of HCV.


Reference:

G Moens et al. Prevalence of hepatitis C antibodies in a large sample of Belgian healthcare workers. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 2000 21: 209-212.

Study

This was a prevalence study set in hospital workers in Flemish and Brussels hospitals. During 1997 and 1997 5,064 workers had samples collected for HCV antibody testing during annual occupational medical examinations. the total employed population was 15,600.

Results

There were 21 persons with HCV antibodies, to give an overall prevalence of 0.41%. In three larger metropolitan and regional hospitals the rate was higher, at 1.3% to 2.3%.

One worker in three (33%) reported at least one needlestick injury. The number of HCV positive persons was too small to allow reliable associations to be drawn.

Comment

The importance of the study is its size, but even so, with only 21 positives there were insufficient events to draw sensible conclusions about associations. There is a worthwhile review of rates in other studies in healthcare workers. Higher rates have been reported for healthcare workers, 1.4% in a California hospital, to 4.1% in an Italian study.

Prevalence rates in general populations through blood donation studies have been reported as 0.9% in Belgium and Italy and 0.4% in Germany.