Epidemiology and Infection

Hepatitis B and C among Berlin dental personnel: incidence, risk factors, and effectiveness of barrier prevention measures

A. AMMON a1c1, P. A. REICHART a3, G. PAULI a2 and L. R. PETERSEN a1a4
a1 Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany
a2 Department of Virology, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany
a3 Center for Dental Medicine of the University Clinic Charité, Berlin, Germany
a4 Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA


A study of 215 Berlin dentists and 108 dental assistants recruited at the 1997 Berlin Dental Society meeting assessed their occupational risk of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, HBV vaccine coverage, and barrier prevention methods used. Among dentists, 7% (95% CI 4–11) and 0·5% (95% CI 0–3) had serological evidence of previous HBV and HCV infection, respectively. Similar figures for dental assistants were 1% (95% CI 0–5) and 0% (95% CI 0–4). Only 74% of dentists and 63% of dental assistants reported HBV vaccination. Approximately half always used gloves, eye glasses, or face masks. HBV unvaccinated dentists whose patients had HBV risk factors had a greater risk of HBV infection; those who always wore face masks were at lower risk (OR 0·2, 95% CI 0·02–0·98). These data indicate that among Berlin dentists, the HCV risk was lower than that of HBV and that face masks may have lowered the risk of HBV. The use of eye glasses or gloves did not appear to lower the risk of HBV acquisition in this population.

(Accepted May 14 2000)

c1 Author for correspondence: Robert Koch Institute, Stesemannstr. 90–102, D-10963 Berlin, Germany.