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1.  Prevalence of HBV and HBV vaccination coverage in health care workers of tertiary hospitals of Peshawar, Pakistan 
Virology Journal  2011;8:275.
Background
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) may progress to serious consequences and increase dramatically beyond endemic dimensions that transmits to or from health care workers (HCWs) during routine investigation in their work places. Basic aim of this study was to canvass the safety of HCWs and determine the prevalence of HBV and its possible association with occupational and non-occupational risk factors. Hepatitis B vaccination coverage level and main barriers to vaccination were also taken in account.
Results
A total of 824 health care workers were randomly selected from three major hospitals of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Blood samples were analyzed in Department of Zoology, Kohat University of Science and Technology Kohat, and relevant information was obtained by means of preset questionnaire. HCWs in the studied hospitals showed 2.18% prevalence of positive HBV. Nurses and technicians were more prone to occupational exposure and to HBV infection. There was significant difference between vaccinated and non-vaccinated HCWs as well as between the doctors and all other categories. Barriers to complete vaccination, in spite of good knowledge of subjects in this regard were work pressure (39.8%), negligence (38.8%) un-affordability (20.9%), and unavailability (0.5%).
Conclusions
Special preventive measures (universal precaution and vaccination), which are fundamental way to protect HCW against HBV infection should be adopted.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-275
PMCID: PMC3121707  PMID: 21645287
2.  Rising burden of Hepatitis C Virus in hemodialysis patients 
Virology Journal  2011;8:438.
Aim
High prevalence of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been reported among the dialysis patients throughout the world. No serious efforts were taken to investigate HCV in patients undergoing hemodialysis (HD) treatment who are at great increased risk to HCV. HCV genotypes are important in the study of epidemiology, pathogenesis and reaction to antiviral therapy. This study was performed to investigate the prevalence of active HCV infection, HCV genotypes and to assess risk factors associated with HCV genotype infection in HD patients of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as comparing this prevalence data with past studies in Pakistan.
Methods
Polymerase chain reaction was performed for HCV RNA detection and genotyping in 384 HD patients. The data obtained was compared with available past studies from Pakistan.
Results
Anti HCV antibodies were observed in 112 (29.2%), of whom 90 (80.4%) were HCV RNA positive. In rest of the anti HCV negative patients, HCV RNA was detected in 16 (5.9%) patients. The dominant HCV genotypes in HCV infected HD patients were found to be 3a (n = 36), 3b (n = 20), 1a (n = 16), 2a (n = 10), 2b (n = 2), 1b (n = 4), 4a (n = 2), untypeable (n = 10) and mixed (n = 12) genotype.
Conclusion
This study suggesting that i) the prevalence of HCV does not differentiate between past and present infection and continued to be elevated ii) HD patients may be a risk for HCV due to the involvement of multiple routes of infections especially poor blood screening of transfused blood and low standard of dialysis procedures in Pakistan and iii) need to apply infection control practice.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-438
PMCID: PMC3180426  PMID: 21920054
Dialysis patients; HCV; HCV Genotype; Epidemiology; Pakistan
3.  Frequent Transient Hepatitis C viremia without Seroconversion among Healthcare Workers in Cairo, Egypt 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57835.
Backgrounds
With 10% of the general population aged 15–59 years chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), Egypt is the country with the highest HCV prevalence worldwide. Healthcare workers (HCWs) are therefore at particularly high risk of HCV infection. Our aim was to study HCV infection risk after occupational blood exposure among HCWs in Cairo.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The study was conducted in 2008–2010 at Ain Shams University Hospital, Cairo. HCWs reporting an occupational blood exposure at screening, having neither anti-HCV antibodies (anti-HCV) nor HCV RNA, and exposed to a HCV RNA positive patient, were enrolled in a 6-month prospective cohort with follow-up visits at weeks 2, 4, 8, 12 and 24. During follow-up, anti-HCV, HCV RNA and ALT were tested. Among 597 HCWs who reported a blood exposure, anti-HCV prevalence at screening was 7.2%, not different from that of the general population of Cairo after age-standardization (11.6% and 10.4% respectively, p = 0.62). The proportion of HCV viremia among index patients was 37%. Of 73 HCWs exposed to HCV RNA from index patients, nine (12.3%; 95%CI, 5.8–22.1%) presented transient viremia, the majority of which occurred within the first two weeks after exposure. None of the workers presented seroconversion or elevation of ALT.
Conclusions/Significance
HCWs of a general University hospital in Cairo were exposed to a highly viremic patient population. They experienced frequent occupational blood exposures, particularly in early stages of training. These exposures resulted in transient viremic episodes without established infection. These findings call for further investigation of potential immune protection against HCV persistence in this high risk group.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057835
PMCID: PMC3585182  PMID: 23469082
4.  A tailored health surveillance program unveils a case of MALT lymphoma in an HCV-positive health-care worker 
Oncology Letters  2012;5(2):651-654.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) may occur among hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected individuals. HCV is one of the most common blood-borne pathogens transmitted from patients to health-care workers (HCWs). The development of NHL among HCV-infected HCWs has recently been shown. To investigate this issue further a tailored health surveillance program was applied to 3,138 HCWs from four Medical Institutions. To this aim, all employees were screened for both anti-HCV antibodies and HCV-related extrahepatic manifestations. The HCV prevalence rate, similar among all the HCW subgroups, was 7.3%. The occurrence of a gastric mucosa-associated lymphoma tissue (MALT) lymphoma, diagnosed in a physician following a long history of HCV chronic infection, was observed. Molecular characterization of MALT tissue indicated that immunoglobuline gene combinations were those usually found among HCV-associated lymphomas. Furthermore, B-cell expansion exhibited t(14;18) translocation, as a genetic abnormality associated with the development of MALT lymphomas from HCV-positive patients. Overall, these findings support the hypothesis that HCV viral infection potentially affects the pathway of transformation and progression of lymphoma cells. The occurrence of B-cell NHL, among HCV-positive HCWs, is an additional reason to apply the standard precautions to reduce the risk of blood-borne pathogen transmission.
doi:10.3892/ol.2012.1028
PMCID: PMC3573080  PMID: 23420489
hepatitis C virus; health-care worker; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; surveillance
5.  The Global Spread of Hepatitis C Virus 1a and 1b: A Phylodynamic and Phylogeographic Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(12):e1000198.
Using phylodynamic and phylogeographic methods, Angelos Hatzakis and colleagues find that the global spread of Hepatitis C virus coincided with widespread use of transfused blood and with the expansion of intravenous drug use.
Background
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is estimated to affect 130–180 million people worldwide. Although its origin is unknown, patterns of viral diversity suggest that HCV genotype 1 probably originated from West Africa. Previous attempts to estimate the spatiotemporal parameters of the virus, both globally and regionally, have suggested that epidemic HCV transmission began in 1900 and grew steadily until the late 1980s. However, epidemiological data suggest that the expansion of HCV may have occurred after the Second World War. The aim of our study was to elucidate the timescale and route of the global spread of HCV.
Methods and Findings
We show that the rarely sequenced HCV region (E2P7NS2) is more informative for molecular epidemiology studies than the more commonly used NS5B region. We applied phylodynamic methods to a substantial set of new E2P7NS2 and NS5B sequences, together with all available global HCV sequences with information in both of these genomic regions, in order to estimate the timescale and nature of the global expansion of the most prevalent HCV subtypes, 1a and 1b. We showed that transmission of subtypes 1a and 1b “exploded” between 1940 and 1980, with the spread of 1b preceding that of 1a by at least 16 y (95% confidence interval 15–17). Phylogeographic analysis of all available NS5B sequences suggests that HCV subtypes 1a and 1b disseminated from the developed world to the developing countries.
Conclusions
The evolutionary rate of HCV appears faster than previously suggested. The global spread of HCV coincided with the widespread use of transfused blood and blood products and with the expansion of intravenous drug use but slowed prior to the wide implementation of anti-HCV screening. Differences in the transmission routes associated with subtypes 1a and 1b provide an explanation of the relatively earlier expansion of 1b. Our data show that the most plausible route of the HCV dispersal was from developed countries to the developing world.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 150 million people (3% of the world's population) harbor long-term (chronic) infections with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and about 3–4 million people become infected with this virus every year. HCV—a leading cause of chronic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)—is spread through contact with infected blood. Transmission routes include medical procedures (for example, transfusions with unscreened blood) and needle-sharing among intravenous drug users. This second transmission route is the most common one in developed countries where blood is now routinely screened before being used in transfusions. HCV infection can cause a short-lived illness characterized by tiredness and jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), but most newly infected people progress to a symptom-free, chronic infection that can eventually cause liver cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer. HCV infections can be treated with a combination of two expensive drugs called interferon and ribavirin, but these drugs are ineffective in many patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Noone knows for sure where HCV originated although there is some evidence that it appeared first in West Africa or Southeast Asia. It is also unclear when the current HCV epidemic began. In this study, the researchers try to elucidate both the timescale and route of the global spread of the HCV epidemic by analyzing the genome sequence of HCV samples collected at different times and places. HCV is a ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus. That is, it stores the information it needs to replicate itself—its genome—as a series of “ribonucleotides.” Like other RNA viruses, the HCV genome continually accumulates small changes (mutations) and, over time, HCV has evolved into several different “genotypes,” each of which has several distinct subtypes. Furthermore, the viruses within a single subtype have subtly different genomes. By analyzing this viral diversity using complex “phylodynamic” and “phylogeographic” methods, scientists can build up a picture of how HCV has evolved in populations and how it has spread to reach its current geographical distribution.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
By examining the genomes of HCV samples collected between 1994 and 2006 at the Athens University Medical School (Greece), the researchers first defined a variable region of HCV called E2P7NS2 that is more informative for phylodynamic studies than the NS5B region that has been used in previous studies. They then retrieved the sequences of both regions for subtype 1a and 1b samples collected over the past 20–30 years in the Los Alamos HCV sequence database; HCV subtypes 1a and 1b cause 60% of global HCV infections. The researchers' phylodynamic analyses of these globally representative sequences (collected in the USA, Germany, Switzerland, and Greece) indicate that the transmission of HCV subtype 1a occurred at a low rate from 1906 until the 1960s, at which time there was an explosive increase in its transmission rate. Similarly, subtype 1b transmission occurred at a low rate from 1922 until the late 1940s but then increased exponentially. From 1980 onwards, the prevalence of both subtypes stabilized at a high level. The researchers' phylogeographic analyses (which considered 1a and1b NS5B sequences collected in 21 and 29 countries, respectively) suggest that HCV subtypes 1a and 1b may have spread from the developed to the developing world.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the epidemic of HCV subtype 1b began in the 1940s when the use of transfused blood and blood products became widespread whereas the start of the subtype 1a epidemic coincided with the expansion of injected drug use that occurred in the 1960s. The findings also suggest that the transmission rates of both subtypes may have slowed before the widespread implementation of HCV screening in the early 1990s, possibly because the medical community was aware by then of the general risks associated with blood contamination. Finally, these findings provide new insights into how the HCV epidemic spread around the world and suggest that HCV may be evolving faster than previously thought. However, because this study relied on a small number of samples collected over a short time period, its findings need to be confirmed in larger studies.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000198.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about hepatitis C and HCV
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on hepatitis C for the public and for health professionals (information is also available in Spanish)
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides basic information on hepatitis C (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources on hepatitis C
The Los Alamos HCV database is available
The US National Center for Biotechnology Information provides a science primer on how scientists reconstruct evolutionary pathways from sequence information
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000198
PMCID: PMC2795363  PMID: 20041120
6.  Occupational exposure to body fluids among health care workers in Georgia 
Background
Health care workers (HCWs) are at increased risk of being infected with blood-borne pathogens.
Aims
To evaluate risk of occupational exposure to blood-borne viruses and determine the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) among HCWs in Georgia.
Methods
The sample included HCWs from seven medical institutions in five cities in Georgia. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect information on demographic, occupational and personal risk factors for blood-borne viruses. After obtaining informed consent, blood was drawn from the study participants for a seroprevalence study of HBV, HCV and HIV infections.
Results
There were 1386 participating HCWs from a number of departments, including surgery (29%), internal medicine (19%) and intensive care (19%). Nosocomial risk events were reported by the majority of HCWs, including accidental needlestick injury (45%), cuts with contaminated instruments (38%) and blood splashes (46%). The most frequent risk for receiving a cut was related to a false move during a procedure, reassembling devices and handing devices to a colleague. The highest proportion of needlestick injuries among physicians (22%) and nurses (39%) was related to recapping of used needles. No HIV-infected HCW was identified. Prevalence of HCV infection was 5%, anti-HBc was present among 29% with 2% being HBsAg carriers.
Conclusions
Data from this study can be utilized in educational programs and implementation of universal safety precautions for HCWs in Georgia to help achieve similar reductions in blood-borne infection transmission to those achieved in developed countries.
doi:10.1093/occmed/kqs121
PMCID: PMC3612004  PMID: 22869786
Blood-borne virus; contamination injury; developing country; needlestick
7.  Hepatitis C Virus-Multispecific T-Cell Responses without Viremia or Seroconversion among Egyptian Health Care Workers at High Risk of Infection 
Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific cell-mediated immunity (CMI) has been reported among exposed individuals without viremia or seroconversion. Limited data are available regarding CMI among at-risk, seronegative, aviremic Egyptian health care workers (HCW), where HCV genotype 4 predominates. We investigated CMI responses among HCW at the National Liver Institute, where over 85% of the patients are HCV infected. We quantified HCV-specific CMI in 52 seronegative aviremic Egyptian HCW using a gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot assay in response to 7 HCV genotype 4a overlapping 15-mer peptide pools covering most of the viral genome. A positive HCV-specific IFN-γ response was detected in 29 of 52 HCW (55.8%), where 21 (40.4%) had a positive response for two to seven HCV pools and 8 (15.4%) responded to only one pool. The average numbers of IFN-γ total spot-forming cells (SFC) per million peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) (± standard error of the mean [SEM]) in the 29 responding and 23 nonresponding HCW were 842 ± 141 and 64 ± 15, respectively (P < 0.001). Flow cytometry indicated that both CD4+ and CD4− T cells produced IFN-γ. In summary, more than half of Egyptian HCW demonstrated strong HCV multispecific CMI without viremia or seroconversion, suggesting possible clearance of low HCV exposure(s). These data suggest that detecting anti-HCV and viremia to determine past exposure to HCV can lead to an underestimation of the true disease exposure and that CMI response may contribute to the low degree of chronic HCV infection in these HCW. These findings could have strong implications for planning vaccine studies among populations with a high HCV exposure rate. Further studies are needed to determine whether these responses are protective.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00050-12
PMCID: PMC3346335  PMID: 22441392
8.  Healthcare workers and health care-associated infections: knowledge, attitudes, and behavior in emergency departments in Italy 
Background
This survey assessed knowledge, attitudes, and compliance regarding standard precautions about health care-associated infections (HAIs) and the associated determinants among healthcare workers (HCWs) in emergency departments in Italy.
Methods
An anonymous questionnaire, self-administered by all HCWs in eight randomly selected non-academic acute general public hospitals, comprised questions on demographic and occupational characteristics; knowledge about the risks of acquiring and/or transmitting HAIs from/to a patient and standard precautions; attitudes toward guidelines and risk perceived of acquiring a HAI; practice of standard precautions; and sources of information.
Results
HCWs who know the risk of acquiring Hepatitis C (HCV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) from a patient were in practice from less years, worked fewer hours per week, knew that a HCW can transmit HCV and HIV to a patient, knew that HCV and HIV infections can be serious, and have received information from educational courses and scientific journals. Those who know that gloves, mask, protective eyewear, and hands hygiene after removing gloves are control measures were nurses, provided care to fewer patients, knew that HCWs' hands are vehicle for transmission of nosocomial pathogens, did not know that a HCW can transmit HCV and HIV to a patient, and have received information from educational courses and scientific journals. Being a nurse, knowing that HCWs' hands are vehicle for transmission of nosocomial pathogens, obtaining information from educational courses and scientific journals, and needing information were associated with a higher perceived risk of acquiring a HAI. HCWs who often or always used gloves and performed hands hygiene measures after removing gloves were nurses, provided care to fewer patients, and knew that hands hygiene after removing gloves was a control measure.
Conclusions
HCWs have high knowledge, positive attitudes, but low compliance concerning standard precautions. Nurses had higher knowledge, perceived risk, and appropriate HAIs' control measures than physicians and HCWs answered correctly and used appropriately control measures if have received information from educational courses and scientific journals.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-35
PMCID: PMC2848042  PMID: 20178573
9.  A Novel Diagnostic Target in the Hepatitis C Virus Genome 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(2):e1000031.
Background
Detection and quantification of hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA is integral to diagnostic and therapeutic regimens. All molecular assays target the viral 5′-noncoding region (5′-NCR), and all show genotype-dependent variation of sensitivities and viral load results. Non-western HCV genotypes have been under-represented in evaluation studies. An alternative diagnostic target region within the HCV genome could facilitate a new generation of assays.
Methods and Findings
In this study we determined by de novo sequencing that the 3′-X-tail element, characterized significantly later than the rest of the genome, is highly conserved across genotypes. To prove its clinical utility as a molecular diagnostic target, a prototype qualitative and quantitative test was developed and evaluated multicentrically on a large and complete panel of 725 clinical plasma samples, covering HCV genotypes 1–6, from four continents (Germany, UK, Brazil, South Africa, Singapore). To our knowledge, this is the most diversified and comprehensive panel of clinical and genotype specimens used in HCV nucleic acid testing (NAT) validation to date. The lower limit of detection (LOD) was 18.4 IU/ml (95% confidence interval, 15.3–24.1 IU/ml), suggesting applicability in donor blood screening. The upper LOD exceeded 10−9 IU/ml, facilitating viral load monitoring within a wide dynamic range. In 598 genotyped samples, quantified by Bayer VERSANT 3.0 branched DNA (bDNA), X-tail-based viral loads were highly concordant with bDNA for all genotypes. Correlation coefficients between bDNA and X-tail NAT, for genotypes 1–6, were: 0.92, 0.85, 0.95, 0.91, 0.95, and 0.96, respectively; X-tail-based viral loads deviated by more than 0.5 log10 from 5′-NCR-based viral loads in only 12% of samples (maximum deviation, 0.85 log10). The successful introduction of X-tail NAT in a Brazilian laboratory confirmed the practical stability and robustness of the X-tail-based protocol. The assay was implemented at low reaction costs (US$8.70 per sample), short turnover times (2.5 h for up to 96 samples), and without technical difficulties.
Conclusion
This study indicates a way to fundamentally improve HCV viral load monitoring and infection screening. Our prototype assay can serve as a template for a new generation of viral load assays. Additionally, to our knowledge this study provides the first open protocol to permit industry-grade HCV detection and quantification in resource-limited settings.
Christian Drosten and colleagues develop, validate, and make openly available a prototype hepatitis C virus assay based on the conserved 3' X-tail element, with potential for clinical use in developing countries.
Editors' Summary
Background.
About 3% of the world's population (170 million people) harbor long-term (chronic) infections with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and about 3–4 million people are newly infected with this virus every year. HCV—a leading cause of chronic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)—is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person. Globally, the main routes of transmission are the use of unscreened blood for transfusions and the reuse of inadequately sterilized medical instruments, including needles. In affluent countries, where donated blood is routinely screened for the presence of HCV, most transmission is through needle sharing among drug users. The risk of sexual and mother-to-child transmission of HCV is low. Although HCV infection occasionally causes an acute (short-lived) illness characterized by tiredness and jaundice (yellow eyes and skin), most newly infected people progress to a symptom-free, chronic infection that can eventually cause liver cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer. HCV infections can be treated with a combination of two drugs called interferon and ribavirin, but these drugs are expensive and are ineffective in many patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
An effective way to limit the global spread of HCV might be to introduce routine screening of the blood that is used for transfusions in developing countries. In developed countries, HCV screening of blood donors use expensive, commercial “RT-PCR” assays to detect small amounts of HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA; HCV stores the information it needs to replicate itself—its genome—as a sequence of “ribonucleotides”). All the current HCV assays, which can also quantify the amount of viral RNA in the blood (the viral load) during treatment, detect a target sequence in the viral genome called the 5′-noncoding region (5′-NCR). However, there are several different HCV “genotypes” (strains). These genotypes vary in their geographical distribution and, even though the 5′-NCR sequence is very similar (highly conserved) in the common genotypes (HCV genotypes 1–6), the existing assays do not detect all the variants equally well. This shortcoming, together with their high cost, means that 5′-NCR RT-PCR assays are not ideal for use in many developing countries. In this study, the researchers identify an alternative diagnostic target sequence in the HCV genome—the 3′-X-tail element—and ask whether this sequence can be used to develop a new generation of tests for HCV infection that might be more appropriate for use in developing countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers determined the RNA sequence of the 3′-X-tail element in reference samples of the major HCV genotypes and showed that this region of the HCV genome is as highly conserved as the 5′-NCR. They then developed a prototype X-tail RT-PCR assay and tested its ability to detect small amounts of HCV and to measure viral load in genotype reference samples and in a large panel of HCV-infected blood samples collected in Germany, the UK, Brazil, South Africa, and Singapore. The new assay detected low levels of HCV RNA in all of the genotype reference samples and was also able to quantify high RNA concentrations. The viral load estimates it provided for the clinical samples agreed well with those obtained using a commercial assay irrespective of the sample's HCV genotype. Finally, the X-tail RT-PCR assay gave similar results to a standard assay at a fraction of the cost when used to measure viral loads in a Brazilian laboratory in an independent group of 127 patient samples collected in Brazil.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the HCV 3′-X-tail element could provide an alternative target for screening blood samples for HCV infection and for monitoring viral loads during treatment, irrespective of HCV genotype. In addition, they suggest that X-tail RT-PCR assays may be stable and robust enough for use in laboratories in emerging countries. Overall, these findings should stimulate the development of a new generation of clinical HCV assays that, because the protocol used in the X-tail assay is freely available, could improve blood safety in developing countries by providing a cheap and effective alternative to existing proprietary HCV assays.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000031.
The World Health Organization has a fact sheet about hepatitis C (in English and French)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on hepatitis C for the public and for health professionals (information is also available in Spanish)
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides basic information on hepatitis C (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page on hepatitis C; MedlinePlus also provides links to further information on hepatitis C (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000031
PMCID: PMC2637920  PMID: 19209955
10.  Tuberculosis among Health-Care Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e494.
Background
The risk of transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from patients to health-care workers (HCWs) is a neglected problem in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Most health-care facilities in these countries lack resources to prevent nosocomial transmission of tuberculosis (TB).
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review to summarize the evidence on the incidence and prevalence of latent TB infection (LTBI) and disease among HCWs in LMICs, and to evaluate the impact of various preventive strategies that have been attempted. To identify relevant studies, we searched electronic databases and journals, and contacted experts in the field. We identified 42 articles, consisting of 51 studies, and extracted data on incidence, prevalence, and risk factors for LTBI and disease among HCWs. The prevalence of LTBI among HCWs was, on average, 54% (range 33% to 79%). Estimates of the annual risk of LTBI ranged from 0.5% to 14.3%, and the annual incidence of TB disease in HCWs ranged from 69 to 5,780 per 100,000. The attributable risk for TB disease in HCWs, compared to the risk in the general population, ranged from 25 to 5,361 per 100,000 per year. A higher risk of acquiring TB disease was associated with certain work locations (inpatient TB facility, laboratory, internal medicine, and emergency facilities) and occupational categories (radiology technicians, patient attendants, nurses, ward attendants, paramedics, and clinical officers).
Conclusions
In summary, our review demonstrates that TB is a significant occupational problem among HCWs in LMICs. Available evidence reinforces the need to design and implement simple, effective, and affordable TB infection-control programs in health-care facilities in these countries.
A systematic review demonstrates that tuberculosis is an important occupational problem among health care workers in low and middle-income countries.
Editors' Summary
Background.
One third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). In many people, the bug causes no health problems—it remains latent. But about 10% of infected people develop active, potentially fatal TB, often in their lungs. People with active pulmonary TB readily spread the infection to other people, including health-care workers (HCWs), in small airborne droplets produced when they cough or sneeze. In high-income countries such as the US, guidelines are in place to minimize the transmission of TB in health-care facilities. Administrative controls (for example, standard treatment plans for people with suspected or confirmed TB) aim to reduce the exposure of HCWs to people with TB. Environmental controls (for example, the use of special isolation rooms) aim to prevent the spread and to reduce the concentration of infectious droplets in the air. Finally, respiratory-protection controls (for example, personal respirators for nursing staff) aim to reduce the risk of infection when exposure to M. tuberculosis is unavoidably high. Together, these three layers of control have reduced the incidence of TB in HCWs (the number who catch TB annually) in high-income countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
But what about low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where more than 90% of the world's cases of TB occur? Here, there is little money available to implement even low-cost strategies to reduce TB transmission in health-care facilities—so how important an occupational disease is TB in HCWs in these countries? In this study, the researchers have systematically reviewed published papers to find out the incidence and prevalence (how many people in a population have a specific disease) of active TB and latent TB infections (LTBIs) in HCWs in LMICs. They have also investigated whether any of the preventative strategies used in high-income countries have been shown to reduce the TB burden in HCWs in poorer countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To identify studies on TB transmission to HCWs in LMICs, the researchers searched electronic databases and journals, and also contacted experts on TB transmission. They then extracted and analyzed the relevant data on TB incidence, prevalence, risk factors, and control measures. Averaged-out over the 51 identified studies, 54% of HCWs had LTBI. In most of the studies, increasing age and duration of employment in health-care facilities, indicating a longer cumulative exposure to infection, was associated with a higher prevalence of LTBI. The same trend was seen in a subgroup of medical and nursing students. After accounting for the incidence of TB in the relevant general population, the excess incidence of TB in the different studies that was attributable to being a HCW ranged from 25 to 5,361 cases per 100, 000 people per year. In addition, a higher risk of acquiring TB was associated with working in specific locations (for example, inpatient TB facilities or diagnostic laboratories) and with specific occupations, including nurses and radiology attendants; most of the health-care facilities examined in the published studies had no specific TB infection-control programs in place.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all systematic reviews, the accuracy of these findings may be limited by some aspects of the original studies, such as how the incidence of LTBI was measured. In addition, the possibility that the researchers missed some relevant published studies, or that only studies where there was a high incidence of TB in HCWs were published, may also affect the findings of this study. Nevertheless, they suggest that TB is an important occupational disease in HCWs in LMICs and that the HCWs most at risk of TB are those exposed to the most patients with TB. Reduction of that risk should be a high priority because occupational TB leads to the loss of essential, skilled HCWs. Unfortunately, there are few data available to indicate how this should be done. Thus, the researchers conclude, well-designed field studies are urgently needed to evaluate whether the TB-control measures that have reduced TB transmission to HCWs in high-income countries will work and be affordable in LMICs.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030494.
• US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases patient fact sheet on tuberculosis
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information for patients and professionals on tuberculosis
• MedlinePlus encyclopedia entry on tuberculosis
• NHS Direct Online, from the UK National Health Service, patient information on tuberculosis
• US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, information about tuberculosis for health-care workers
• American Lung Association information on tuberculosis and health-care workers
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030494
PMCID: PMC1716189  PMID: 17194191
11.  Costs and cost-effectiveness of different follow-up schedules for detection of occupational hepatitis C virus infection 
Gut  2008;58(1):105-110.
Objective:
The purpose of this study was to compare the costs and cost-effectiveness (C/E) of early hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA testing (alternative-US recommendations) after occupational exposure to HCV with existing follow-up strategies: (1) French, anti-HCV antibodies and alanine transaminase (ALT) activity at months 1, 3 and 6; (2) European, monthly ALT activity for 4 months and anti-HCV antibodies at month 6; (3) and baseline-US, anti-HCV antibodies and ALT activity at month 6.
Methods:
A decision tree simulated each strategy for 7300 healthcare workers (HCWs) exposed to HCV each year in France, taking into account the impact of early diagnosis on the response to antiviral treatment and the deterioration of HCW quality of life after exposure.
Results:
For a HCV transmission risk of 0.5% after exposure, the French strategy led to the highest costs/person (€181.40) and the baseline-US strategy to the lowest (€126.60) (€178.50) for alternative-US). The shortest mean time to HCV infection diagnosis (1 month) and the lowest number of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients (1.9/7300 HCWs exposed) was obtained with the alternative-US strategy (vs 6 months and 7.9 CHC, respectively with baseline-US). Compared with the alternative-US, the French strategy was associated with higher costs and lower utilities, and the European with a higher incremental C/E ratio. Compared with the baseline-US strategy, the alternative-US strategy C/E ratio was €2020 per quality-adjusted life year saved.
Conclusion:
In HCWs exposed to HCV, a strategy based on early HCV RNA testing shortens the period during which the HCW’s wait for his HCV status, leads to lower risk of progression to CHC and is reasonably cost-effective.
doi:10.1136/gut.2007.145516
PMCID: PMC2597690  PMID: 18824553
12.  Hepatitis C virus genotypes in Pakistan: a systemic review 
Virology Journal  2011;8:433.
Background and aim
Phylogenetic analysis has led to the classification of hepatitis C virus (HCV) into 1-6 major genotypes. HCV genotypes have different biological properties, clinical outcome and response to antiviral treatment and provide important clues for studying the epidemiology, transmission and pathogenesis. This article deepens the current molecular information about the geographical distribution of HCV genotypes and subgenotypes in population of four provinces of Pakistan. 34 published papers (1996-2011) related to prevalence of HCV genotypes/serotypes and subgenotypes in Pakistan were searched.
Result
HCV genotype/s distribution from all 34 studies was observed in 28,400 HCV infected individuals in the following pattern: 1,999 (7.03%) cases of genotype 1; 1,085 (3.81%) cases of genotype 2; 22,429 (78.96%) cases of genotype 3; 453 (1.59%) cases of genotype 4; 29 (0.10%) cases of genotype 5; 37 (0.13%) cases of genotype 6; 1,429 (5.03%) cases of mixed genotypes, and 939 (3.30%) cases of untypeable genotypes. Overall, genotype 3a was the predominant genotype with a rate of 55.10%, followed by genotype 1a, 3b and mixed genotype with a rate of 10.25%, 8.20%, and 5.08%, respectively; and genotypes 4, 5 and 6 were rare. Genotype 3 occurred predominately in all the provinces of Pakistan. Second more frequently genotype was genotype 1 in Punjab province and untypeable genotypes in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-433
PMCID: PMC3178528  PMID: 21902822
HCV; Genotypes; Prevalence; Pakistan
13.  Health care-associated hepatitis C virus infection 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(46):17265-17278.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a blood-borne pathogen that has a worldwide distribution and infects millions of people. Care-associated HCV infections represented a huge part of hepatitis C burden in the past via contaminated blood and unsafe injections and continue to be a serious problem of public health. The present review proposes a panorama of health care-associated HCV infections via the three mode of contamination that have been identified: (1) infected patient to non-infected patient; (2) infected patient to non-infected health care worker (HCW); and (3) infected HCW to non infected patient. For each condition, the circumstances of contamination are described together with the means to prevent them. As a whole, the more important risk is represented by unsafe practices regarding injections, notably with the improper use of multidose vials used for multiple patients. The questions of occupational exposures and infected HCWs are also discussed. In terms of prevention and surveillance, the main arm for combating care-associated HCV infections is the implementation of standard precautions in all the fields of cares, with training programs and audits to verify their good application. HCWs must be sensitized to the risk of blood-borne pathogens, notably by the use of safety devices for injections and good hygiene practices in the operating theatre and in all the invasive procedures. The providers performing exposed-prone procedures must monitor their HCV serology regularly in order to detect early any primary infection and to treat it without delay. With the need to stay vigilant because HCV infection is often a hidden risk, it can be hoped that the number of people infected by HCV via health care will decrease very significantly in the next years.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i46.17265
PMCID: PMC4265584  PMID: 25516637
Hepatitis C virus; Health care-associated infection; Health care worker; Standard precautions; Hemodialysis; Unsafe injections; Occupational exposure; Antiviral drugs
14.  Self-reported occupational exposure to HIV and factors influencing its management practice: a study of healthcare workers in Tumbi and Dodoma Hospitals, Tanzania 
Background
Blood borne infectious agents such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immune deficiency virus (HIV) constitute a major occupational hazard for healthcare workers (HCWs). To some degree it is inevitable that HCWs sustain injuries from sharp objects such as needles, scalpels and splintered bone during execution of their duties. However, in Tanzania, there is little or no information on factors that influence the practice of managing occupational exposure to HIV by HCWs. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of self-reported occupational exposure to HIV among HCWs and explore factors that influence the practice of managing occupational exposure to HIV by HCWs in Tanzania.
Methods
Self-administered questionnaire was designed to gather information of healthcare workers’ occupational exposures in the past 12 months and circumstances in which these injuries occurred. Practice of managing occupational exposure was assessed by the following questions:
Results
Nearly half of the HCWs had experienced at least one occupational injury in the past 12 months. Though most of the occupational exposures to HIV were experienced by female nurses, non-medical hospital staff received PEP more frequently than nurses and doctors. Doctors and nurses frequently encountered occupational injuries in surgery room and labor room respectively. HCWs with knowledge on the possibility of HIV transmission and those who knew whom to contact in event of occupational exposure to HIV were less likely to have poor practice of managing occupational exposure.
Conclusion
Needle stick injuries and splashes are common among HCWs at Tumbi and Dodoma hospitals. Knowledge of the risk of HIV transmission due to occupational exposure and knowing whom to contact in event of exposure predicted practice of managing the exposure. Thus provision of health education on occupational exposure may strengthen healthcare workers’ practices to manage occupational exposure.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-276
PMCID: PMC3718638  PMID: 23866940
HIV; Occupational exposure; Healthcare workers
15.  The Effects of Influenza Vaccination of Health Care Workers in Nursing Homes: Insights from a Mathematical Model 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(10):e200.
Background
Annual influenza vaccination of institutional health care workers (HCWs) is advised in most Western countries, but adherence to this recommendation is generally low. Although protective effects of this intervention for nursing home patients have been demonstrated in some clinical trials, the exact relationship between increased vaccine uptake among HCWs and protection of patients remains unknown owing to variations between study designs, settings, intensity of influenza seasons, and failure to control all effect modifiers. Therefore, we use a mathematical model to estimate the effects of HCW vaccination in different scenarios and to identify a herd immunity threshold in a nursing home department.
Methods and Findings
We use a stochastic individual-based model with discrete time intervals to simulate influenza virus transmission in a 30-bed long-term care nursing home department. We simulate different levels of HCW vaccine uptake and study the effect on influenza virus attack rates among patients for different institutional and seasonal scenarios. Our model reveals a robust linear relationship between the number of HCWs vaccinated and the expected number of influenza virus infections among patients. In a realistic scenario, approximately 60% of influenza virus infections among patients can be prevented when the HCW vaccination rate increases from 0 to 1. A threshold for herd immunity is not detected. Due to stochastic variations, the differences in patient attack rates between departments are high and large outbreaks can occur for every level of HCW vaccine uptake.
Conclusions
The absence of herd immunity in nursing homes implies that vaccination of every additional HCW protects an additional fraction of patients. Because of large stochastic variations, results of small-sized clinical trials on the effects of HCW vaccination should be interpreted with great care. Moreover, the large variations in attack rates should be taken into account when designing future studies.
Using a mathematical model to simulate influenza transmission in nursing homes, Carline van den Dool and colleagues find that each additional staff member vaccinated further reduces the risk to patients.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every winter, millions of people catch influenza, a contagious viral disease of the nose, throat, and airways. Most people recover completely from influenza within a week or two but some develop life-threatening complications such as bacterial pneumonia. As a result, influenza outbreaks kill about half a million people—mainly infants, elderly people, and chronically ill individuals—each year. To minimize influenza-related deaths, the World Health Organization recommends that vulnerable people be vaccinated against influenza every autumn. Annual vaccination is necessary because flu viruses continually make small changes to the viral proteins (antigens) that the immune system recognizes. This means that an immune response produced one year provides only partial protection against influenza the next year. To provide maximum protection against influenza, each year's vaccine contains disabled versions of the major circulating strains of influenza viruses.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most Western countries also recommend annual flu vaccination for health care workers (HCWs) in hospitals and other institutions to reduce the transmission of influenza to vulnerable patients. However, many HCWs don't get a regular flu shot, so should efforts be made to increase their rate of vaccine uptake? To answer this question, public-health experts need to know more about the relationship between vaccine uptake among HCWs and patient protection. In particular, they need to know whether a high rate of vaccine uptake by HCWs will provide “herd immunity.” Herd immunity occurs because, when a sufficient fraction of a population is immune to a disease that passes from person to person, infected people rarely come into contact with susceptible people, which means that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are protected from the disease. In this study, the researchers develop a mathematical model to investigate the relationship between vaccine uptake among HCWs and patient protection in a nursing home department.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To predict influenza virus attack rates (the number of patient infections divided by the number of patients in a nursing home department during an influenza season) at different levels of HCW vaccine uptake, the researchers develop a stochastic transmission model to simulate epidemics on a computer. This model predicts that as the HCW vaccination rate increases from 0 (no HCWs vaccinated) to 1 (all the HCWs vaccinated), the expected average influenza virus attack rate decreases at a constant rate. In the researchers' baseline scenario—a nursing home department with 30 beds where patients come into contact with other patients, HCWs, and visitors—the model predicts that about 60% of the patients who would have been infected if no HCWs had been vaccinated are protected when all the HCWs are vaccinated, and that seven HCWs would have to be vaccinated to protect one patient. This last figure does not change with increasing vaccine uptake, which indicates that there is no level of HCW vaccination that completely stops the spread of influenza among the patients; that is, there is no herd immunity. Finally, the researchers show that large influenza outbreaks can happen by chance at every level of HCW vaccine uptake.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all mathematical models, the accuracy of these predictions may depend on the specific assumptions built into the model. Therefore the researchers verified that their findings hold for a wide range of plausible assumptions. These findings have two important practical implications. First, the direct relationship between HCW vaccination and patient protection and the lack of any herd immunity suggest that any increase in HCW vaccine uptake will be beneficial to patients in nursing homes. That is, increasing the HCW vaccination rate from 80% to 90% is likely to be as important as increasing it from 10% to 20%. Second, even 100% HCW vaccination cannot guarantee that influenza outbreaks will not occasionally occur in nursing homes. Because of the large variation in attack rates, the results of small clinical trials on the effects of HCW vaccination may be inaccurate and future studies will need to be very large if they are to provide reliable estimates of the amount of protection that HCW vaccination provides to vulnerable patients.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050200.
Read the related PLoSMedicine Perspective by Cécile Viboud and Mark Miller
A related PLoSMedicine Research Article by Jeffrey Kwong and colleagues is also available
The World Health Organization provides information on influenza and on influenza vaccines (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information for patients and professionals on all aspects of influenza (in English and Spanish)
The UK Health Protection Agency also provides information on influenza
MedlinePlus provides a list of links to other information about influenza (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service provides information about herd immunity, including a simple explanatory animation
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control provides an overview on the types of influenza
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050200
PMCID: PMC2573905  PMID: 18959470
16.  Risk and Management of Blood-Borne Infections in Health Care Workers 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  2000;13(3):385-407.
Exposure to blood-borne pathogens poses a serious risk to health care workers (HCWs). We review the risk and management of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections in HCWs and also discuss current methods for preventing exposures and recommendations for postexposure prophylaxis. In the health care setting, blood-borne pathogen transmission occurs predominantly by percutaneous or mucosal exposure of workers to the blood or body fluids of infected patients. Prospective studies of HCWs have estimated that the average risk for HIV transmission after a percutaneous exposure is approximately 0.3%, the risk of HBV transmission is 6 to 30%, and the risk of HCV transmission is approximately 1.8%. To minimize the risk of blood-borne pathogen transmission from HCWs to patients, all HCWs should adhere to standard precautions, including the appropriate use of hand washing, protective barriers, and care in the use and disposal of needles and other sharp instruments. Employers should have in place a system that includes written protocols for prompt reporting, evaluation, counseling, treatment, and follow-up of occupational exposures that may place a worker at risk of blood-borne pathogen infection. A sustained commitment to the occupational health of all HCWs will ensure maximum protection for HCWs and patients and the availability of optimal medical care for all who need it.
PMCID: PMC88939  PMID: 10885983
17.  Colonial History and Contemporary Transmission Shape the Genetic Diversity of Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 2 in Amsterdam 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(14):7677-7687.
Evolutionary analysis of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome sequences has provided insights into the epidemic history and transmission of this widespread human pathogen. Here we report an exceptionally diverse set of 178 HCV genotype 2 (HCV-2) isolates from 189 patients in Amsterdam, comprising 8 distinct HCV subtypes and 10 previously not recognized, unclassified lineages. By combining study subjects' demographic information with phylogeographic and molecular clock analyses, we demonstrate for the first time that the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonial history were the driving forces behind the global dissemination of HCV-2. We detect multiple HCV-2 movements from present-day Ghana/Benin to the Caribbean during the peak years of the slave trade (1700 to 1850) and extensive transfer of HCV-2 among the Netherlands and its former colonies Indonesia and Surinam over the last 150 years. The latter coincides with the bidirectional migration of Javanese workers between Indonesia and Surinam and subsequent immigration to the Netherlands. In addition, our study sheds light on contemporary trends in HCV transmission within the Netherlands. We observe multiple lineages of the epidemic subtypes 2a, 2b, and 2c (together 67% of HCV-2 infections in Amsterdam), which cluster according to their suspected routes of transmission, specifically, injecting drug use (IDU) and contaminated blood/blood products. Understanding the epidemiological processes that generated the global pattern of HCV diversity seen today is critical for exposing associations between populations, risk factors, and specific HCV subtypes and might help HCV screening and prevention campaigns to minimize the future burden of HCV-related liver disease.
doi:10.1128/JVI.06910-11
PMCID: PMC3416291  PMID: 22573865
18.  Active hepatitis C infection and HCV genotypes prevalent among the IDUs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 
Virology Journal  2011;8:327.
Injection drug users (IDUs) are considered as a high risk group to develop hepatitis C due to needle sharing. In this study we have examined 200 injection drug users from various regions of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province for the prevalence of active HCV infection and HCV genotypes by Immunochromatographic assays, RT-PCR and Type-specific PCR. Our results indicated that 24% of the IDUs were actively infected with HCV while anti HCV was detected among 31.5% cases. Prevalent HCV genotypes were HCV 2a, 3a, 4 and 1a. Majority of the IDUs were married and had attained primary or middle school education. 95% of the IDUs had a previous history of needle sharing. Our study indicates that the rate of active HCV infection among the IDUs is higher with comparatively more prevalence of the rarely found HCV types in KPK. The predominant mode of HCV transmission turned out to be needle sharing among the IDUs.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-327
PMCID: PMC3148566  PMID: 21711541
IDUs; HCV; Genotype; RT-PCR; KPK
19.  Prevalence of HCV among the high risk groups in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 
Virology Journal  2011;8:296.
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease, caused by blood borne pathogen; the Hepatitis C Virus. In this study we analyzed blood samples collected from various risk groups for the prevalence of anti-HCV and active HCV infection with the help of Immunochromtographic tests and nested PCR. The prevalence of active HCV infection among the high risk groups was 15.57% (26/167). The prevalence of HCV in individual risk groups was 15%, 28%, 8%, 14.28% and 14.28% in the case of thalassemics, dialysis, major surgery group, dental surgery group and injection drug users respectively. Our analysis reveals the fact that health care facilities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan are contributing a great deal towards the spread of HCV infection.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-296
PMCID: PMC3121710  PMID: 21663685
20.  Seroprevalence of hepatitis B and C virus infections among health students and health care workers in the Najran region, southwestern Saudi Arabia: The need for national guidelines for health students 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:577.
Background
The objectives of the study were to study the seroprevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections among health college students (HS) and health care workers (HCWs) in the Najran Region of south-western Saudi Arabia and to study the students’ knowledge of occupational exposure to blood-borne viral infections.
Methods
A cross-sectional study of a representative sample of 300 HS and 300 HCWs was conducted.
Results
An overall seroprevalence of HBV of 1.7% and 8.7% was found among HS and HCWs, respectively. Two-thirds of HS (66.7%, 200) and 23.3% (70) of HCWs lack anti-HBs and are susceptible to HBV infection. An overall seroprevalence of HCV of 0% and 0.3% was found among the HS and HCWs, respectively. The present study indicates poor knowledge among HS and moderate knowledge among HCWs regarding occupationally transmitted blood-borne diseases, safe injection practices, and standard precautions to prevent occupationally transmitted blood-borne infections.
Conclusion
It is mandatory to develop a structured program to raise awareness among HS, and current health colleges’ curricula should be upgraded to address these issues early. The HS should be considered new recruits to health services in terms of their initial screening for blood-borne infections and vaccination against HBV. The development of a novel continuing medical education and pre-employment awareness program for HCWs is recommended to address the following: blood-borne diseases transmitted occupationally, standard precautions to prevent occupationally transmitted blood borne infections, and safe injection practices.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-577
PMCID: PMC4059075  PMID: 24912684
HBV; HCV; HCW; Health Students; Saudi Arabia
21.  Incidence of occupational exposures in a tertiary health care center 
Introduction:
Occupational exposure to Hepatitis B virus (HBV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a cause of concern to all health care workers (HCWs), especially those, in hospitals. Among the HCWs, nurses, interns, technicians, resident doctors and housekeeping staff have the highest incidence of occupational exposure.
Aims:
To analyze the cases of needle stick injuries and other exposures to patient's blood or body fluids among health care workers.
Materials and Methods:
A detailed account of the exposure is documented which includes incidence of needle stick injuries (NSI) and implementation of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) as per the hospital guidelines. We report a two-year continuing surveillance study where 255 health care workers (HCWs) were included. PEP was given to HCWs sustaining NSI or exposures to blood and body fluids when the source is known sero-positive or even unknown where the risk of transmission is high. Follow-up of these HCW's was done after three and six months of exposure.
Results:
Of the 255 HCWs, 59 sustained needle stick injuries and two were exposed to splashes. 31 of the NSI were from known sources and 28 from unknown sources. From known sources, thirteen were seropositive; seven for HIV, three for HCV and three for HBV. Nineteen of them sustained needle stick during needle re-capping, six of them during clean up, six of them while discarding into the container, 17 during administration of injection, eight of them during suturing, two occurred in restless patient, 17 during needle disposal.
Conclusion:
So far, no case of sero-conversion as a result of needle stick injuries was reported at our center.
doi:10.4103/0253-7184.102111
PMCID: PMC3505302  PMID: 23188932
Human immunodeficiency virus; hepatitis B and C virus; Occupational exposure; post-exposure prophylaxis
22.  Response rates of standard interferon therapy in chronic HCV patients of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) 
Virology Journal  2012;9:18.
Background
Interferon based therapy is used to eradicate the Hepatitis C Virus from the bodies of the infected individuals. HCV is highly prevalent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) that is why it is important to determine the response of standard interferon based therapy in Chronic HCV patients of the region.
Study design
A total of 174 patients were selected for interferon based therapy. The patients were selected from four different regions of KPK. After confirmation of active HCV infection by Real Time PCR, standard interferon with ribavirn was given to patients for 6 months. After completion of therapy, end of treatment virologic response (ETR) was calculated.
Results
Out of total 174 patients, 130 (74.71%) showed ETR and 44 (25.28%) did not show ETR. In district Bunir, out of 52 patients, 36 (69.23%) showed ETR and 16 (30.79%) did not show ETR. In district Mardan, out of the total 74 patients, 66 (89.18%) were negative for HCV RNA and 8 (10.81%) were resistant to therapy. In Peshawar, out of 22, 16 (60%) were negative and 6 (40%) were positive for HCV RNA at the end of 6 months therapy. In the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), out of 18 only 10 (55.5%) were negative and 8 (44.45%) were positive for active HCV infection.
Conclusion
It is concluded that the response of antiviral therapy against HCV infection in chronic HCV patients of KPK province is 74.71%. The high response rate may be due to the prevalence of IFN-responsive HCV genotypes (2 and 3) in KPK.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-18
PMCID: PMC3284448  PMID: 22244529
End of treatment virologic response; Interferon; Ribavirin; KPK (Khyberpakhtunkhwa); Hepatitis C; ALT (Alanin Aminotransferase)
23.  Tuberculosis in healthcare workers – a narrative review from a German perspective 
Introduction
Despite the decline of tuberculosis in the population at large, healthcare workers (HCW) are still at risk of infection.
Methods
In a narrative review the TB risk in HCW and preventive measures are described, with the focus on epidemiology and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) regulations in Germany.
Results
There is an increased risk of infection not only in pneumology and laboratories with regular contact with tuberculosis patients or infectious materials. Epidemiological studies have also verified an increased risk of infection from activities that involve close contact with patients’ breath (e.g. bronchoscopy, intubation) or close contact with patients in need of care in geriatric medicine or geriatric nursing. In occupational disease claim proceedings on account of tuberculosis, the burden of proof can be eased for insured persons who work in these or other comparable fields. Forgoing evidence of an index person as a source of infection has led to a doubling of the rate of cases of tuberculosis recognised as an occupational disease and has halved the duration of occupational disease claim proceedings in Germany. For several years now, it has been possible to use the new interferon-y release assays (IGRAs) to diagnose a latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) with significantly greater validity than with the traditional tuberculin skin test (TST). However, variability of the IGRAs around the cut-off poses problems especially in serial testing of HCWs. At around 10%, LTBI prevalence in German healthcare workers is lower than had been assumed. It can make sense to treat a recent LTBI in a young healthcare worker so as to prevent progression into active tuberculosis. If the LTBI is occupational in origin, the provider of statutory accident insurance can cover the costs of preventive treatment. However, little is known about disease progression in HCWs with positive IGRA sofar.
Conclusion
TB screening in HCWs will remain an important issue in the near future even in low incidence, high income countries, as active TB in HCWs is often due to workplace exposure. The IGRAs facilitate these screenings. However, variability of IGRA results in serial testing of HCWs need further investigations.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-9-9
PMCID: PMC3984703  PMID: 24625063
Tuberculosis; Provision; Occupational disease; Assessment; Healthcare; Prevention
24.  The Effect of Hepatitis C Virus Infection on Health-Related Quality of Life in Prisoners 
Journal of Urban Health   2006;83(2):275-288.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in prisoners represents an important public health problem. However, there is very little information about HCV-related health-related quality of life (HRQOL). We examined the effect of HCV antibody positivity, HCV viremia, and being a prisoner on prisoners'' HRQOL. Population-based health surveys incorporating HCV screening were conducted among prisoners at New South Wales (NSW), Australia, correctional centers in 1996 and 2001. HCV antibody and HCV RNA status were determined from venous blood sampling. HRQOL and mood status were assessed using the Short Form-36 (SF-36) Health Survey and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Comparison of HRQOL scores between HCV antibody negative, HCV antibody positive/non-viremic, and HCV antibody positive/viremic and assessment of temporal change in HRQOL between 1996 and 2001 within groups were made using ANCOVA adjusting for confounders. Factors associated with HRQOL were determined in linear regression models. Analyses between HCV antibody negative (n = 423), HCV positive/non-viremic (n = 89), and HCV positive/viremic (n = 178) prisoners found no measurable effect of HCV on HRQOL, including that attributable to HCV viremia. Compared to uninfected Australian population norms, prisoners had lower HRQOL irrespective of HCV status. The prevalence of ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’ depressive symptoms was greater in the HCV antibody positive/viremic group than the HCV antibody positive/non-viremic group or the HCV antibody negative group. Selected demographic factors (age), co-morbidity, severity of depressive symptoms and medical care utilization influenced HRQOL. There was evidence to support the effect of knowledge of HCV status on HRQOL. In conclusion, our findings contrast with previous studies in non-prisoner groups in which HCV infection appears to decrease overall HRQOL. Non-HCV factors may override HCV-specific HRQOL impairment in this population. Targeted management strategies are required to improve HRQOL of prisoners.
doi:10.1007/s11524-005-9015-4
PMCID: PMC2527173  PMID: 16736376
Australia; HCV; Prisoner; Quality of life; SF-36
25.  Geographic Distribution of Hepatitis C Virus Genotypes in Pakistan 
Hepatitis Monthly  2014;14(10):e20299.
Background:
Distribution of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) genotypes may be changed over time. Epidemiological Studies on distribution patterns of HCV genotypes in Pakistani population might assist for better treatment options and preventive strategies.
Objectives:
This study was conducted to determine distribution patterns of HCV genotypes in different geographical regions of Pakistan.
Patients and Methods:
In this cross-sectional study, 1818 randomly selected patients from different geographical regions of Pakistan, diagnosed with HCV infection by the third generation Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), were included between April 2011 and December 2013. HCV RNA was detected in serum samples of patients by Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT- PCR) of the core region. Qualitative PCR was performed to determine viral load. HCV genotyping was performed by RT-nested PCR using type-specific primers of the core region. Frequency of different genotypes among patients was assessed according to gender, age and geographical region at the time of sampling.
Results:
Of 1818 HCV RNA positive samples, HCV genotypes PCR fragments were detected in 1552 (85.5%) samples. HCV genotype 3a was the predominant genotype (39.4%) followed by genotype 2a (24.93%). HCV genotype 3 was the predominant genotype in Punjab and Sindh regions, while genotype 2 was the most predominant genotype in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region and the second predominant genotype after genotype 3 in Sindh region. The incidence of genotype 2a is increasing in our country with decrease in the incidence of genotype 3a. A higher incidence of HCV various genotypes were observed among male patients and those younger than 45 years.
Conclusions:
This study may facilitate treatment options and preventive strategies in Pakistan.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.20299
PMCID: PMC4250967  PMID: 25477975
HCV Genotypes; Distribution Patterns; Geographical Regions; Pakistan

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