Author(s): Franka E, ElZoka AH, Hussein AH, Elbakosh MM, Arafa AK,
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Abstract Medical waste handlers (MWHs) are at risk of exposure to serious viral infections. No data are available on the prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among MWHs in Libya. During a one-year period (January to December 2004) blood samples from 300 (59 females) MWHs employed by a local contractor in Tripoli and 300 blood samples from non-medical waste handlers (NMWHs) who had no direct or indirect contact with medical waste were examined for HBV, HCV and HIV using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. HBV was detected in 7 (2.3\%) and 1 (0.3\%) and HCV in 8 (2.7\%) and 0 (0.0\%) of MWHs and NMWHs, respectively. Significant differences were observed in the detection rates of HBV (OR: 7.14; P<0.04) and HCV (OR: undefined; P<0.005) in MWHs when compared with NMWHs. HIV was not detected in both groups. Of the MWHs studied, 21\% were immunised against HBV and 7\% were trained to handle medical waste. In addition, 99.7\% wore overalls, 57.7\% thick disposable gloves, 55\% boots and 17.7\% masks while handling medical waste. In conclusion, prevalence rates of HBV and HCV were significantly higher in MWHs than those in NMWHs examined. Training, immunisation, and post-exposure protection of MWHs, in addition to proper management of medical waste by the health authorities, may significantly reduce the risk of acquiring infectious agents by MWHs in Libya.
This article was published in J Hosp Infect
and referenced in International Journal of Waste Resources