OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the risk of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection among sewage workers from occupational exposure to raw sewage. METHODS: An analytical cross sectional study of 241 company employees with possible occupational exposure to sewage in a large water and sewerage company was carried out. Previous exposure to hepatitis A virus infection was assessed, as were its associations with possible risk factors. RESULTS: Frequent occupational exposure to raw sewage was a significant risk factor for HAV infection, independently of other known risk factors (odds ratio 3.73, 95% confidence interval 1.48 to 9.37). Of 50 employees who reported occupational exposure to raw sewage most of the time, 30 (60%) had had HAV infection. CONCLUSION: Employees who are likely to be at risk of frequent exposure should have their immunity ensured. The salivary assay for IgG anti-HAV used in the study was highly specific and would be suitable for prevaccination testing of older employees, who are more likely to be immune.
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