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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Which preventive measures might protect health care workers from SARS?

Wei-Qing Chen1*, Wen-Hua Ling2, Ci-Yong Lu1, Yuan-Tao Hao4, Zhong-Ning Lin3, Li Ling1, Jian Huang4, Gang Li5 and Guang-Mei Yan6

Author affiliations

1 Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-Sen University, 74 Zhongshan Road II, Guangzhou, PR China

2 Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-Sen University, 74 Zhongshan Road II, Guangzhou, PR China

3 Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-Sen University, 74 Zhongshan Road II, Guangzhou, PR China

4 Department of Surgery, the Second Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, 107 Yanjiangxi Road, Guangzhou, PR China

5 Department of Infection, the Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Dinggang, Shipai, Guangzhou, PR China

6 Department of Pharmacology, Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University, 74 Zhongshan Road II, Guangzhou, PR China

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2009, 9:81  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-81

Published: 13 March 2009

Abstract

Background

Despite the use of a series of preventive measures, a high incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was observed among health care workers (HCWs) during the SARS epidemic. This study aimed to determine which preventive measures may have been effective in protecting HCWs from infection, and which were not effective.

Methods

A retrospective study was performed among 758 'frontline' health care workers who cared for SARS patients at the Second Affiliated Hospital and the Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University. The HCWs with IgG against SARS and those without IgG against SARS were respectively defined as the "case group" and the "control group", and logistic regression was conducted to explore the risk factors for SARS infection in HCWs.

Results

After adjusting for age, gender, marital status, educational level, professional title, and the department in which an individual worked, the results of a multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that incidence of SARS among HCWs was significantly and positively associated with: performing tracheal intubations for SARS patients, methods used for air ventilation in wards, avoiding face-to-face interaction with SARS patients, the number of pairs of gloves worn by HCWs, and caring for serious SARS cases.

Conclusion

Some measures, particularly good air ventilation in SARS wards, may be effective in minimizing or preventing SARS transmission among HCWs in hospitals.