The risk of hepatitis A infection among healthcare workers: A review of reported outbreaks and sero-epidemiologic studies

G. Chodick, S. Ashkenazi, Y. Lerman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

All reports of hepatitis A (HA) outbreaks in healthcare settings published between 1975 and 2003 were studied to determine the background immunity or susceptibility of healthcare workers (HCWs) to HA. Twenty-six reports were found. The number of infected personnel ranged from one to 66 and, in most outbreaks, nurses accounted for the majority of personnel infected, reflecting high attack rates reaching 15-41%. In addition, we found 23 sero-epidemiological studies for HA among HCWs that had been performed in 13 different countries. Seroprevalence rates of HCWs with anti-HA antibody ranged between 4% among paramedical workers in Germany to 88% among hospital maintenance workers in Portugal. Effective infection control of HA outbreaks in hospitals demands early recognition, including awareness of atypical presentations of the infection, and strict adherence to universal infection control measures. Education programmes are of special importance for HCWs in neonatal, paediatric and intensive care units. The findings of the current study suggest that a pre-employment screening policy and administration of active vaccination to susceptible HCWs, particularly nurses, should be seriously considered in high-risk settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-420
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Volume62
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006

Keywords

  • Healthcare workers
  • Hepatitis A
  • Infection control
  • Outbreaks

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