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Exposure to blood among mortuary workers in teaching hospitals in south-west Nigeria

B Ogunnowo
C Anunobi
A Onajole
K Odeyemi


Background: Mortuary workers like other health workers are exposed to blood borne pathogens at work. A baseline assessment is important to plan for programmes to safeguard the health of workers. The aim of this study is to determine exposure rates to blood among mortuary workers in teaching hospitals in South West Nigeria.
Methods: A descriptive cross sectional study was carried out between March and May 2008. All mortuary workers working in six (6) teaching hospitals, 80 in total were included in the study. Data was collected with the aid of a 15- item self administered questionnaire. Data was analysed with the aid of EPI-INFO 2002. Statistical associations were explored using odds ratio and confidence intervals.
Results: A total of 76 respondents completed questionnaire giving a response rate of 95%; 3 males and 1 female declined to participate, the mean age of respondents was 38.2 years, 48(72.6%), 53(85.5%) and 50(73.5%) of the workers had been exposed to blood through cuts, blood splash and needle stick injury. Duration at work was significantly associated with blood splash. Workers who had worked 5years and above were 0.10 times (95% confidence interval 0.00-.0.78) as likely to experience blood splash compared to those who had worked under 5 years. Only 5(10.4%) of workers with needle stick injury had completed three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine. The specific confirmation by antibody titre was however not done in this study.
Conclusion: Exposure to blood was very common with blood splash emerging as the most common route of exposure. There is a need for vaccination of all mortuary workers with three doses of Hepatitis B Vaccine to protect their health. In addition, education of workers on risks and institution of standard operating procedure are crucial to safeguard the health of mortuary workers.

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