PREVALENCE OF HEPATITIS B SURFACE ANTIGEN AND ANTIBODY (HEPATITIS B VIRUS MARKERS) IN PERSONNEL AT A CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
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After two cases of acute hepatitis B infection occurred in phlebotomists at The Hospital for Sick Children in 1985, a seroprevalence survey of hepatitis B virus markers was undertaken. Directors in high-risk areas were advised by phone and memorandum to screen employees. Participation was entirely voluntary, and employees who did not respond were contacted six weeks after initial notification. Information obtained from each participant through a self-administered questionnaire included age, duration of employment in current pediatric occupation, history of blood transfusions, immune globulin prophylaxis, needlestick injury, and country of birth (North America/United Kingdom or other). Sera identified by code were tested by radioimmunoassay. Interactions were analyzed by using a multiple logistic regression model. A total of 10% of the personnel in high-risk areas, in which there was frequent exposure to blood or blood products, had hepatitis B markers in their blood, compared with 2% who did not have this exposure. Birthplace and occupation have independently significant effects on the likelihood of having hepatitis B markers. There appears to be an increased risk to employees in pediatric units, depending on the patient (and parent) population being served, although the risk may be lower than in adult hospitals.
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