News from Hepatitis Week of Nov. 30, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 48
Study: No Need for Routine Hepatitis C Testing for Medical Responders to Emergencies

Medical personnel who respond quickly to emergencies should not undergo routine testing for the presence of the hepatitis C virus even though they are often exposed to the blood of others, according to a study reported in the November 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attempted to determine the prevalence of the hepatitis C virus among firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics in Atlanta, Connecticut and Philadelphia.

The researchers found that the prevalence of the hepatitis C virus among the study participants in the three different locations ranged from 1.3% to 3.6%, which was basically no different than the general population.

The researchers noted that infection with the hepatitis C virus was not associated with a history of skin exposure to blood and that the prevalence of the hepatitis C virus did not increase the more one worked as an emergency first responder.

"The low prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection indicates that routine testing of first responders as an occupational group is not warranted," concluded the researchers.

Other sources: Archives of Internal Medicine 2003 Nov 24;163(21):2605-10