Substantial Risk of Occupational and Community Exposures to COVID-19 Among HCWs in LTCFs

Lenggenhager, et al. (2022) investigated the contribution of both occupational and community exposure for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among employees of a university-affiliated long-term care facility (LTCF), during the first pandemic wave in Switzerland (March–June 2020).

The researchers performed a nested analysis of a seroprevalence study among all volunteering LTCF staff to determine community and nosocomial risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity using modified Poison regression. They also combined epidemiological and genetic sequencing data from a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak investigation in a LTCF ward to infer transmission dynamics and acquisition routes of SARS-CoV-2, and evaluated strain relatedness using a maximum likelihood phylogenetic tree.

Among 285 LTCF employees, 176 participated in the seroprevalence study, of whom 30 (17%) were seropositive for SARS-CoV-2. Most (141/176, 80%) were healthcare workers (HCWs). Risk factors for seropositivity included exposure to a COVID-19 inpatient (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] 2.6; 95% CI 0.9–8.1) and community contact with a COVID-19 case (aPR 1.7; 95% CI 0.8–3.5). Among 18 employees included in the outbreak investigation, the outbreak reconstruction suggests 4 likely importation events by HCWs with secondary transmissions to other HCWs and patients.

The researchers say these two complementary epidemiologic and molecular approaches suggest a substantial contribution of both occupational and community exposures to COVID-19 risk among HCWs in LTCFs. These data may help to better assess the importance of occupational health hazards and related legal implications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reference: Lenggenhager L, et al. Occupational and community risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection among employees of a long-term care facility: an observational study. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Volume 11, article number 51 (2022).