SARS-CoV-2 exposure, symptoms and seroprevalence in health care workers


Background: SARS-CoV-2 may pose an occupational health risk to health care workers, but the prevalence of infections in this population is unknown. We examined the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies among health care workers at a large acute care hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. We determined correlations between seroprevalence, self-reported symptoms and occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Methods and findings: All employees at Danderyd Hospital (n=4375) were invited to participate in a cross-sectional study. 2149 employees from all hospital departments were enrolled in the study between April 14th and May 8th 2020. Study participants completed a questionnaire consisting of symptoms compatible with SARS-CoV-2 infection since January 2020 and occupational exposure to patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were analyzed using a multiplex assay evaluated to have 99.4% sensitivity and 99.1% specificity. The over-all seroprevalence among 2149 participants was 19.1% (n=410). There was no difference in age or sex between seropositive and seronegative participants. The symptoms with the strongest correlation to seroprevalence were anosmia and ageusia, with odds ratios of 28.4 (p=2.02*10^-120) and 19.2 (p=1.67*10^-99) respectively. Seroprevalence was strongly associated with patient-related work (OR 2.9, p=4.24*10^-8), covid-19 patient contact (OR 1.43, p=0.003), and occupation as assisting nurse (OR 3.67, p=2.16*10^-9). Conclusion: These results demonstrate that anosmia and ageusia should be included in screening guidance and in the recommendations of self-isolation to reduce further spread of SARS-CoV-2. The results furthermore imply an occupational health risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection among hospital workers. Continued measures are warranted to assure healthcare worker safety and reduce transmission from health care settings to the community during the covid-19 outbreak.