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Article

Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in Hospital Environment: Working in a COVID-19 Ward Is a Risk Factor for Infection

1
Department of Internal Medicine, Centre Hospitalier EpiCURA, 7301 Hornu, Belgium
2
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Centre Hospitalier EpiCURA, 7301 Hornu, Belgium
3
Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070 Bruxelles, Belgium
4
Department of Cardiology, Centre Hospitalier EpiCURA Hospital, 7301 Hornu, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
A.K. and C.d.T. can both be considered as first author as they participated equally to the conception of the study and writing of the manuscript.
Academic Editor: Anna Honko
Pathogens 2021, 10(9), 1175; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10091175
Received: 16 August 2021 / Revised: 4 September 2021 / Accepted: 8 September 2021 / Published: 12 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Viral Pathogens)
Aims. Health care workers (HCWs) are at risk of acquiring the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection (SARS-CoV-2). The aim of the study is to determine the SARS-CoV-2 positivity rates during the first epidemiologic peak among HCWs of a south Belgian hospital and to identify risks factors for infection. Methods. All hospital staff who worked during the first epidemiological peak were asked to answer a questionnaire regarding demographical data, function, type of working unit, type of contact with patients, eventual symptomatology, and the positivity of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing or immunoassay. Results. A total of 235 questionnaires were collected; 90 (38%) HCWs tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 from either RT-PCR or immunoassay testing. The positivity rate of HCWs between wards was statistically different (p = 0.004) and was higher in COVID-19 wards than Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Emergency Department (ED). A total of 114 (49%) HCWs presented SARS-CoV-2-compatible symptomatology; 79 (88%) were positive on either RT-PCR or immunoassay testing; 74 (37%) HCWs were unable to work during the studied period; 5 were hospitalized. No deaths were reported. Multivariate logistic regression modeling showed that having symptoms was highly associated with test positivity (OR 23.3, CI 11.1, 53.1, p-value < 0.001). Working in a COVID-19 ward against working in ICU or ED was also predictive of positivity among HCWs (OR 3.25, CI 1.50, 7.28, p-value = 0.003). Discussion and Conclusions. This study shows a higher positivity rate compared to already reported positivity rates among HCWs. Reported differences in positivity rates depend on many factors, such as local crisis intensity, screening strategy, training in use of self-protective equipment, and study selection bias. HCWs working in COVID-19 wards, in comparison to ED and ICU, seemed at greater risk of being infected in this study. This could be explained by the disparity of HCWs’ experience in handling self-protective equipment and knowledge in infection prevention. Hence, care should be taken in proper training for less-experienced HCWs during hospital epidemics. The latter could increase HCWs’ protection and consequently decrease work absenteeism, ensuring enhanced continuity of patient care during hospital crisis. Rapid quarantine of symptomatic HCWs could reduce contamination rates, as having symptoms was highly associated with test positivity in this study. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 units; health care workers; infection; SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19; COVID-19 units; health care workers; infection; SARS-CoV-2
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kapuczinski, A.; de Terwangne, C.; De Keukeleire, S.; Goffard, J.-C.; Sorgente, A.; Place, S.; De Cubber, M. Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in Hospital Environment: Working in a COVID-19 Ward Is a Risk Factor for Infection. Pathogens 2021, 10, 1175. https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10091175

AMA Style

Kapuczinski A, de Terwangne C, De Keukeleire S, Goffard J-C, Sorgente A, Place S, De Cubber M. Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in Hospital Environment: Working in a COVID-19 Ward Is a Risk Factor for Infection. Pathogens. 2021; 10(9):1175. https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10091175

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kapuczinski, Abeline, Christophe de Terwangne, Steven De Keukeleire, Jean-Christophe Goffard, Antonio Sorgente, Sammy Place, and Michael De Cubber. 2021. "Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in Hospital Environment: Working in a COVID-19 Ward Is a Risk Factor for Infection" Pathogens 10, no. 9: 1175. https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10091175

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