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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”




By: Henderson, CW, Medical Letter on the CDC & FDA, 15324648, 08/13/2000
Database: Academic Search Premier


2000 AUG 13 - ( -- One of the few studies to conduct an analysis of source patient seroprevalence for hepatitis C virus was reported recently at the CDC 2000 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases that was held in Atlanta, Georgia.

R.T. Ball from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control was the author of the study, titled "Increased Risks to Health Care Workers (HCW) from Hepatitis C Virus."

"The per-positive exposure seroconversion risk for hepatitis B virus (HBV) approximates 30%, for hepatitis C virus (Hepatitis C Virus) 2%-3%, and for HIV 0.3%. Currently there is neither pre- nor post-exposure prophylaxis for Hepatitis C Virus exposures," Ball stated in the study report.


To get a better picture of occupational exposures, practitioner seroconversions, and the seroprevalence of Hepatitis C Virus, HBV, and HIV in hospitalized source patients (SP), Ball sent out a questionnaire to medical personnel at 66 health facilities in South Carolina.

Eighty percent of the surveys were completed and returned. Data showed that of the 1,668 exposures recorded, 1,451 source patients were tested for Hepatitis C Virus and 1,508 were tested for HIV.

Study data indicated Hepatitis C Virus and HIV seropositive rates of 5.2% and 2.3%, respectively.

"The six largest hospitals in the survey reported 1,037 exposures averaging 88% of SP tested; the Hepatitis C Virus rate was 6.7%, with HIV of 2.2%," Ball reported.

In one hospital with more than 300 exposures, SP seroprevalence was a high 8.7%, while the HIV rate was comparable to the study average at 2.1%. These averages were higher than averages that would be found in the general population, Ball noted.

"The risk for HCWs from Hepatitis C Virus is greater than realized and exceeds HIV by 20-40 fold (seroconversion risks times the SP seroprevalences). We anticipate three to four HCWs to occupationally seroconvert annually," Ball said.

Ball suggested that the need to protect health care workers from occupational exposures is an urgent and critical issue.


Visit the online database at to see 84 more articles on the subject of health care workers and hepatitis.

The corresponding author for this study is R.T. Ball, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Columbia, South Carolina, USA.

Key points reported in this study are:

  • Few studies have been conducted that show the seroprevalence for hepatitis C virus in hospitalized patients who may be the source for occupational exposures
  • The source patient seroprevalence for hepatitis C virus in this study is 5.2% while the rate for HIV is 2.3%
  • Due to the high numbers of hospitalized patients with hepatitis C virus, urgent measures should be undertaken to prevent occupational exposures

This article was prepared by Medical Letter on the CDC & FDA editors from staff and other reports. (C) Copyright 2000, Medical Letter on the CDC & FDA via


By CW Henderson, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief