To determine the prevalence of the vaccine-preventable diseases caused by varicella, measles, rubella, and hepatitis A and B viruses in a multinational healthcare workforce.
In compliance with hospital policy, newly recruited healthcare workers (HCWs) were enrolled in the study from September 2001 to March 2005. Serum samples were collected from all HCWs during the initial hiring process and tested for IgG antibodies against each of the 5 viral agents. Nonimmune HCWs were subsequently vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.
A total of 4,006 newly hired (international and local) employees were included in the study. All underwent serologic testing for IgG antibodies against varicella, measles, rubella, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B viruses. Of the total, 63% were female and 37% were male. Middle Eastern employees comprised 47% of the total, followed by employees from the Far East (35%), the West (10%), and Africa (8%). Forty-two percent were nurses, 27% were in administration, 18% were medical technicians, and 13% were physicians. Among the 4,006 newly hired HCWs, 14% had negative IgG antibody test results for varicella virus, 13% for measles virus, 10% for rubella virus, 33% for hepatitis A virus, and 43% for hepatitis B virus. More women than men were susceptible to hepatitis A (40% vs. 24%; P< .001), whereas more men were susceptible to hepatitis B (55% vs. 35%; P< .001). Varicella susceptibility was more common among HCWs from the Far East (19%), whereas susceptibility to measles, rubella, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B was highest among HCWs from the Middle East. Both relative youth and male sex were associated with lack of antibodies against hepatitis B virus and rubella virus. In contrast, female sex and younger age were associated with lack of antibodies against hepatitis A virus (P< .001).
Seroprevalence surveys of vaccine-preventable diseases among HCWs, although labor intensive, are invaluable in caring for a multinational workforce.