Background: The health care worker (HCW) is at substantial risk of acquiring bloodborne pathogen infections through exposure to blood or infectious body fluids. Hepatitis B vaccination of HCWs and optimal HCW practices regarding management of sharps can minimize these risks. This study explores the frequency of exposure to needlestick injuries and the hepatitis B vaccination coverage among HCWs in Egypt.
Methods: All HCWs available in a 25% random sample of different types of health care facilities from 2 governorates in Egypt (Nile Delta and Upper Egypt) were included in the study. A total of 1485 HCWs were interviewed. History of exposure to needlestick injuries, vaccination status, and socioeconomic data were collected.
Results: Of the 1485 HCWs interviewed, 529 (35.6%) were exposed to at least 1 needlestick injury during the past 3 months with an estimated annual number of 4.9 needlesticks per worker. The most common behavior associated with needlestick injuries was 2-handed recapping. Overall, 64% of HCWs disposed of needles unsafely in nonpuncture-proof containers. Overall 15.8% of HCWs reported receiving 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine. Vaccination coverage was highest among professional staff (38%) and lowest among housekeeping staff (3.5%). Using Kane's model to predict infections after needlestick exposures, we estimate 24,004 hepatitis C virus and 8617 hepatitis B virus infections occur each year in Egypt as a result of occupational exposure in the health care environment.
Conclusion: High rates of needlestick injuries and low vaccination coverage contribute highly to the rates of viral hepatitis infections among HCWs. Prevention of occupational infection with bloodborne pathogens should be a priority to the national program for promotion of infection control. Training of HCWs on safe handling and collection of needles and sharps, and hepatitis B vaccination of all HCWs is required to reduce transmission.