Surgical and midwifery staff are at risk of acquiring occupational blood-borne infections. Controversial results have been reported about HCV. Objective of this cross-sectional sero-epidemiological study was to assess the prevalence of HCV in nurses from surgical/gynaecological wards of 16 randomly selected hospitals in West Pomeranian region of Poland and to compare it with other groups: consecutive female patients from the same hospital wards and female blood donation candidates from Regional Center for Blood Donation. Method: Serum samples collected from 414 healthcare employees and 1118 female patients have been tested by ELISA between February 2008 and June 2009 and confirmed by RIBA.
Results The seroprevalence in staff members was 1.4% (95% CI 0.7% to 3.1%). Personnel's sero-positive status was predominantly discovered during our occasional screening. A stepwise multivariate model indicated that for anti-HCV sero-positivity, only the length of employment was associated with an increased odds of being infected (OR 2.8; p<0.006). HCV prevalence in female patients was 0.4% (4/1118; 95% CI 0.1% to 0.9%), while in 801 female blood donors 0% (0/801; 95% CI 0% to 1.1%). Comparison of HCV prevalence with the patients' population and blood donors indicated an decreasing trend in this order: nurses/midwives, patients, blood donors.
Conclusions Surgical nurses and midwives show greater prevalence of anti-HCV than their female patients and blood donation candidates which may indicate an important occupational risk. Among those with positive serology, a factor of greatest risk was time in the job suggesting a dose-response effect. Much better recognition of possible consequences of blood exposures is needed regarding surgical and gynaecological staff in Poland.
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