Risk of HCV transmission after needlestick injury, and the efficacy of short-duration interferon administration to prevent HCV transmission to medical personnel

Hobyung Chung, Masatoshi Kudo, Takashi Kumada, Shinji Katsushima, Akihiro Okano, Takefumi Nakamura, Yukio Osaki, Katsuji Kohigashi, Yukitaka Yamashita, Hideshi Komori, Shinichi Nishiuma
Journal of Gastroenterology 2003, 38 (9): 877-9

BACKGROUND: We carried out this study to assess the risk of hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission after needlestick injuries in medical personnel, and to evaluate the efficacy of short-duration interferon administration to prevent HCV transmission.

METHODS: A total of 684 personnel who had been occupationally exposed to an anti-HCV-positive source and followed for more than 3 months were retrospectively examined.

RESULTS: Of the 684 subjects, 279 (41%) were treated with 1 to 3 days of interferon either just after or 1 to 12 days after the injury. One case of HCV infection was found in each of the treated (1/279; 0.4%) and nontreated (1/405; 0.2%) groups. There was no significant difference in the transmission of HCV between the two groups. Both infected patients were treated with interferon after developing acute hepatitis, and HCV was subsequently cleared.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a lower risk of HCV transmission after needlestick accident than previously reported, and short-duration interferon administration at an early stage after the needlestick injury, to prevent HCV transmission, is unnecessary.

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