APH 2001, 59, 137-149:

Is there a higher risk for hepatitis A in Flemish health care workers ?
A seroprevalence study

G. Vandersmissen, G. Moens, P. Jacques, R. Vranckx, and W. Wollants

Keywords: HAV, health care workers, occupational risk, seroprevalence study

During 1996-1997 the authors performed a serological survey to investigate the prevalence of hepatitis A virus (HAV) antibodies in  sample of 5,064 Flemish hospital employees.  Additional data were collected by means of a questionnaire.  The association between seropositivity and selected variables was investigated in order to identify riskgroups.  The reliability of disease recall as a predictor of immunity was assessed.  Statistical analysis was performed by calculating overall and age-specific prevalence rates, prevalence ratio's (PR) and their 95 percent confidence intervals (95% CI).  Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV) of the history were computed.  The prevalence rate of HAV seropositivity was 35.6%.  Significantly higher seropositivity rates were observed in older age groups.  HAV seropositivity was significantly higher among workers from foreign origin and among catering personnel.  The presence of HAV antibodies was significantly associated with jobs related to a lower educational level.  No significant difference in HAV seropositivity was found between HAV seropositivity and a history of bloodtransfusion.  The PPV and NPV of a history of hepatitis were 72.5 and 69.2%.

The authors did not find an increased risk for HAV infection in this sample of Flemish health care workers.  In addition, comparisons within the sample did not reveal an increased occupational risk in paedeatric nurses of other occupational subgroups.  A positive history of infective jaundice was a good predictor of immunity.