A prospective study of hepatitis C virus infection after needlestick accidents

Liver. 1996 Oct;16(5):331-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0676.1996.tb00755.x.


There have been few prospective studies of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection after needlestick accidents in hospital employees. In the present study, the prevalence and features of HCV infection after needlestick accidents were evaluated prospectively measuring serum HCV-RNA. Subjects were 56 employees who had HCV needlestick accidents. To monitor the development of hepatitis, the serum ALT levels and HCV-related seromarkers, such as first generation anti-HCV (RIA), second generation anti-HCV (PHA) and HCV-RNA (RT-PCR) were measured every month for at least 12 months after the accidents. Three of 56 (5.4%) recipients developed HCV infection. HCV-RNA was detected in all three recipients within 4 months after the exposure, and second-generation HCV antibody was detected in two of three recipients. The detection of HCV-RNA was earlier than that of HCV antibody. Two of three HCV-infected recipients developed type C acute hepatitis and one of two received interferon therapy; however, the other case received no medication. The detection of HCV-related seromarkers and the elevation of ALT levels were transient in these three recipients: thus, none developed chronic hepatitis. In conclusion, HCV infection developed in 5.4% of recipients within 4 months after HCV accidents. All of these HCV-infected recipients showed fair prognosis. HCV-RNA was a beneficial parameter for early detection of HCV infection.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational*
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / immunology
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / immunology
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / therapy
  • Hepatitis C / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional
  • Interferons / therapeutic use
  • Medical Staff, Hospital*
  • Needlestick Injuries / complications*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • Radioimmunoassay


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • RNA, Viral
  • Interferons