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Occupational exposures to blood and other bodily fluids occur in approximately 5 per 100 persons every year in US hospitals. Since the provision of health care in the deployed environment poses unique challenges to hospital personnel, it is important to characterize the rates of occupational exposures and understand the prevalence of blood-borne pathogens (BBPs) in host nations.
A retrospective review of public health and laboratory records at a US military trauma center in Afghanistan from October 1, 2010, to March 31, 2012.
A total of 65 occupational exposures were reported, including 47 (72%) percutaneous and 18 (28%) mucocutaneous, with a yearly rate of 8.6 exposures per 100 persons. During 6-month deployment cycles, the majority of exposures (46.2%) occurred in the first 2 months after arrival in Afghanistan. Physicians reported the most exposures (26%), and the operating room (48%) was the most common hospital location. The prevalence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C among local national source patients (n = 59 ) was 8.9% and 2.3%, respectively, with no cases of HIV or syphilis detected. In contrast, there were no BBPs detected in coalition source (n = 12) or exposed (n = 57) patients.
The characteristics of occupational exposures in this deployed environment were comparable to those of US-based hospitals. Standard practices used to reduce occupational exposures, such as use of personal protective equipment and safety devices, should continue to be prioritized in the deployed setting. Although BBP rates are not well defined in Afghanistan, our results were consistent with those of prior epidemiologic studies.
To determine whether multidrug-resistant (MDR) gram-negative organisms are present in Afghanistan or Iraq soil samples, contaminate standard deployed hospital or modular operating rooms (ORs), or aerosolize during surgical procedures.
US military hospitals in the United States, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Soil samples were collected from sites throughout Afghanistan and Iraq and analyzed for presence of MDR bacteria. Environmental sampling of selected newly established modular and deployed OR high-touch surfaces and equipment was performed to determine the presence of bacterial contamination. Gram-negative bacteria aerosolization during OR surgical procedures was determined by microbiological analysis of settle plate growth.
Subsurface soil sample isolates recovered in Afghanistan and Iraq included various pansusceptible members of Enterobacteriaceae, Vibrio species, Pseudomonas species, Acinetobacter Iwojfii, and coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (CNS). OR contamination studies in Afghanistan revealed 1 surface with a Micrococcus luteus. Newly established US-based modular ORs and the colocated fixed-facility ORs revealed no gram-negative bacterial contamination prior to the opening of the modular OR and 5 weeks later. Bacterial aerosolization during surgery in a deployed fixed hospital revealed a mean gram-negative bacteria colony count of 12.8 colony-forming units (CFU)/dm2/h (standard deviation [SD], 17.0) during surgeries and 6.5 CFU/dm2/h (SD, 7.5; P = .14) when the OR was not in use.
This study demonstrates no significant gram-negative bacilli colonization of modular and fixed-facility ORs or dirt and no significant aerosolization of these bacilli during surgical procedures. These results lend additional support to the role of nosocomial transmission of MDR pathogens or the colonization of the patient themselves prior to injury.
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