The risk of infection with bloodborne pathogens among public safety workers is not well defined. This survey assessed personal and occupational risk factors among uniformed fire department employees by a self-administered questionnaire and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection status by serologic testing. Overall, 46 (7.8%) of 592 employees had past or current hepatitis B virus infection. Employees reporting blood contact with skin had been infected more often than employees without this exposure (11% vs 5.8%, prevalence ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval, 1.1, 3.3). Prevalence of infection did not differ by age, years on the job, or job duties. The adjusted prevalence of hepatitis B virus infection among male employees (4.5%) was not significantly different than the prevalence in American men (6.8%) (P = .17). Although the overall risk of hepatitis B virus infection is not greater among fire department employees than the general population, blood contact with skin may elevate this risk.
©1993 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine