Medical Practice

Clinical Problems: Hepatitis in Dialysis Units in the United Kingdom

Br Med J 1972; 3 doi: (Published 08 July 1972) Cite this as: Br Med J 1972;3:94
  1. Sheila Polakoff,
  2. Yvonne E. Cossart,
  3. Hilary E. Tillett


    A prospective study of hepatitis in 20 dialysis units in the United Kingdom showed that the number of units with outbreaks increased from one in 1968 to three in 1969 and the overall attack rate rose from 1·7 to 5·3% in patients and from 0·5 to 1·3% in staff.

    In July 1969 a pilot study of patients' sera showed that all of the outbreaks were associated with Australia (Au) antigen. Au antigen was not detected in the unaffected units or in one unit in which there were several patients with abnormal liver function.

    In January 1970 systematic prospective testing for Au antigen was begun. Au antigen was detected in single patients in five more of the 20 units. The transfer of the affected patients to isolation for dialysis seemed to prevent the spread of infection in the units. The incidence of hepatitis in 1970 was 5·6% in patients and 0·4% in staff.

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