A stratified age matched sample of 564 general hospital nurses, assistant nurses, and porters was studied for antibody to hepatitis A virus (anti-HAV), hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), and antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs), and these data were compared with serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and identified episodes of hepatitis. The overall prevalence of anti-HBs was increased twofold compared with blood donors, while no evidence of increased exposure to hepatitis A virus was found. The serological survey showed porters to have a significantly higher prevalence of hepatitis A virus (52%) as well as hepatitis B virus (10.2%) markers compared with the nurses and assistant nurses (39% and 5.3% respectively). In contrast, the clinical data showed the incidence of hepatitis to be four times higher in nurses than in the two other groups during hospital employment. The serological survey may reflect differences in social background of the groups, while the clinical data identified nurses as having the highest occupational hepatitis risk. A number of episodes of hepatitis in nurses appeared to be due to non-A, non-B agents. AST values, however, did not show any case of liver inflammation not attributable to alcohol. Thus chronic non-A, non-B infections could not be shown in this population group.
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