Risk of infection in health care workers following occupational exposure to a noninfectious or unknown source

Am J Infect Control. 2008 Dec;36(10):e27-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2008.05.012.


Background: The major concern after occupational exposures is the possible transmission of blood-borne pathogens, especially hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This study was undertaken to evaluate the risk of infection after exposure to blood or body fluids of an unknown or an HBV-, HCV-, and HIV-negative source and to determine the epidemiologic characteristics of these incidents in health care workers.

Methods: The survey was conducted over a 6-year period at a university hospital in Turkey, using a questionnaire to elicit demographic and epidemiologic information. Serologic tests for HBV, HCV, and HIV were performed and repeated after 3 months.

Results: Of the 449 incidents, complete follow-up was achieved in 320 (71.3%), and no seroconversion was observed for HBV, HCV and HIV. Most of the incidents occurred in medical (34.7%) and surgical (25.4%) work areas. The most frequent type of exposure was percutaneous injury (94%), most commonly caused by handling of garbage bags (58.4%), needle recapping (16.5%), and invasive interventions (13.4%).

Conclusion: Infection risk seems to be extremely low for HCV and HIV, because of low endemicity, and for HBV in groups immunized against HBV.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood / microbiology
  • Blood-Borne Pathogens / isolation & purification
  • Body Fluids / microbiology
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis B / transmission*
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis C / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Turkey / epidemiology