HEPATITIS C is proving to be an occupational hazard for
healthcare workers in India.
Thursday April 13, 2006
According to a study reported in the February issue of Indian
Journal of Medical Research, an ICMR publication, says there is
about 4 per cent prevalence of the disease among healthcare
workers about double the percentage found in general
Hepatitis C is a dangerous liver disease cause by Hepatitis C
virus and can lead to liver failure in the longer run.
As there is no significant data available regarding prevalence
of the disease in healthcare workers the sample study
conducted in a tertiary care centre in New Delhi Lok Nayak Jai
Prakash Hospital has been taken as a sample. The study was
conducted by the Department of Medicine of Maulana Azad Medical
College that is attached to the hospital.
The study was conducted in the hospital between June 2003 and
August 2003. The study included 100 subjects, which included
residents, doctors, nurses, technicians and those working in
haemodialysis units and laboratories, blood banks and dental
units. The healthcare workers were in the age group of 34 to 40
years working for not less than seven years.
Of the total 113 healthcare workers selected, 13 were excluded
from the study based on their history suggestive of the presence
of disease or even daily intake of alcohol, which leads to the
According to the researchers, 4-5-ml blood sample was drawn from
each subject and stored under asseptic conditions.
In this study, the overall prevalence was found to be 4 per cent
in the hospital. The prevalence was found high in haemodialysis
units (8.33 per cent), blood banks ( 5.56 per cent) and
haemodialysis laboratories ( 4 per cent). None of the subjects,
however, were found positive in dental units and biochemical and
According to the researchers, the prevalence was much higher
than general population which is mostly less than 2 per cent.
The researchers say it is imperative that healthcare workers be
sensitised about precautions and safe disposal of needles and
other contaminated material.
The higher prevalence among healthcare workers may be due to
their exposure to infected blood/blood products of patients
suffering from the disease. The exposure may be in form of
needle pricks, contact of cut skin surface with blood or blood
products and improper disposal of infected medical waste.