Occupational Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Hepatitis B Virus, and Hepatitis C Virus Infections Among Funeral Service Practitioners in Maryland

Robyn R.M. Gershon, Miriam J. Alter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the risk of exposure and infection with bloodbome pathogens, a seroepidemiologic survey was conducted among funeral service practitioners (FSPs) in Maryland. METHOD: Of 262 members of the Maryland State Funeral Directors Association, 130 (49%) volunteered to participate in the study. In addition to a brief questionnaire, designed to assess both occupational and non-occupational risk factors for bloodbome pathogen infection, participants were screened for markers of human immunodeficiency vims (HIV), hepatitis C vims (HCV), and past hepatitis B vims (HBV). Titers for antibodies to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs) also were examined and compared with histnrv of henatitis B vaccination,. RESULTS: Seroprevalence for HIV, HBV, and HCV infection was 0.8%, 4.6%, and 0%, respectively. Nearly 19% of participants reported at least one bloodbome exposure in the past 6 months. The one HIV infection and all but two of the HBV infections were correlated with well-established non-occupational risk behaviors. Disposable gloves were worn by 96%, and eating, drinking, or smoking during embalming were infrequent. Sixty-one percent of FSPs reported having received one or more doses of hepatitis B vaccine at some time in the past. Of those who reported having received all three doses of vaccine, 67% had adequate titers to hepatitis B surface antibody, the marker of protection related to vaccination. CONCLUSION: Compared with prior studies of FSPs, this study found a low rate of occupational exposures and a high rate of hepatitis B vaccination, suggesting improved compliance with recommendations for preventing transmission of bloodbome pathogens in the workplace. (Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 1995;16:194-197).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-197
Number of pages4
JournalInfection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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