Author(s): C Fritzsche, F Becker, C J Hemmer, D Riebold, S Klammt
Background: Healthcare workers (HCW) are at risk of acquiring blood-borne viral infections, particularly hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and HIV, especially in high endemic regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods: Sera from 237 hospital workers in Southwest Cameroon were tested for anti-hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc), hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), anti-hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs), anti-HCV and (on a voluntary basis) for anti-HIV. Information on pre-study testing for HBV, HCV and HIV and pre-study HBV vaccination status was collected from these individuals.
Results: The pre-study testing rate among participating hospital staff for HBV was 23.6% (56/237), for HCV 16% (38/237), and for HIV 91.6% (217/237). The pre-study HBV vaccination rate was 12.3% (29/237). Analysis of anti-HBc revealed that 73.4% (174/237) of the hospital staff had been infected by HBV. Active HBV infection (HBsAg positivity) was detected in 15 participants. Anti-HCV was found in four of 237 participants, HIV antibodies were detected in four of 200 participants tested.
Conclusion: HBV and HCV are neglected diseases among HCW in sub-Saharan Africa. The vaccination rate against HBV was very low at 12.3%, and therefore anti-HBc testing should be mandatory to identify HCW requiring HBV vaccination. Testing for HBV and routine HBV vaccination for HBV-negative HCW should be strongly enforced in Cameroon.Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs