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Hepatitis in Undertakers

Barnet Berris, MSc, MD FRCP(C); S. Victor Feinman, MD, FRCP(C); Beverley Richardson, MD, FRCP(C); Damiana W. Wrobel, MRCS, LRCP; Jonathan C. Sinclair, MD, FRCP(C)
JAMA. 1978;240(2):138-139. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290020060025.
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Six of 106 undertakers (5.6%) gave a past history of hepatitis during their professional careers; this was no different from the frequency in a control group of 3,162 accountants (5.1%) who had no direct contact with blood. None of the undertakers or 210 blood donors matched for age, sex, and ethnic background had serum positive for hepatitis B surface antigen. Five undertakers (4.7%) had blood that was positive for antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen, compared with six of 210 (2.9%) in the control group; this difference was not statistically significant (P>.25). Thus, undertakers appear to be in a low-risk occupation with reference to acquisition of hepatitis B. Although the numbers are too small for statistical analysis, there appeared to be an increased exposure to hepatitis B in undertakers who take no preventive precautions. We recommend that the minimal precautions for undertakers be the wearing of gloves.

(JAMA 240:138-139, 1978)


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