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November 11, 1974

Epidemic Hepatitis in a Clinical Laboratory: Possible Association With Computer Card Handling

Author Affiliations

From the Phoenix Laboratories Division, Bureau of Epidemiology, Center for Disease Control, Public Health Service, US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Drs. Pattison, Boyer, and Maynard), and the Infectious Diseases Section, Maricopa County General Hospital (Dr. Kelly), Phoenix, Ariz.

JAMA. 1974;230(6):854-857. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240060024023

During a six-month period (Dec 15, 1972, to June 15, 1973), hepatitis developed in five employees of a large, hospital-based clinical laboratory. Three employees had transient hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), one had antibody to surface antigen (anti-HBs), and one had neither. In the two years preceding this outbreak, only one laboratory employee had had overt hepatitis.

Risk-factor analysis for ill employees and a control group of HBsAg- and anti-HBs-negative laboratory employees matched for age, length of employment, and amount of exposure to blood specimens showed that only a history of sustaining cuts while handling laboratory requisitions was statisticallysignificant (P<.005).

Recognition of the possible cause of the outbreak and adoption of problem-oriented preventive measures have been associated with no further clinical cases of hepatitis in the past year.

(JAMA 230:854-857, 1974)