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Papers of the Week

2022 Jul 04

Int J Environ Res Public Health



Clinical Characteristics and Potential Risk Factors Associated with the SARS-CoV-2 Infection: Survey on a Health Care Workers (HCWs) Population in Northern Italy.


Novelli V, Fassio F, Resani G, Bussa M, Durbano A, Meloni A, Oliva G, Cutti S, Girardi D, Odone A, Villani S, Marena C, Muzzi A, Monti M C
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jul 04; 19(13).
PMID: 35805853.


During the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 400 million cases all over the world have been identified. Health care workers were among the first to deal with this virus and consequently a high incidence of infection was reported in this population. The aim of the survey was to investigate health care workers' (HCWs) clinical characteristics and potential risk factors associated with the SARS-CoV-2 infection in a referral hospital in Northern Italy after the first and second waves of the pandemic. We administered a questionnaire during the flu vaccination campaign that took place at the end of 2020; among 1386 vaccinated HCWs, data was collected and analyzed for 1065 subjects. 182 HCWs (17%) declared that they had tested positive on at least a molecular or a serological test since the beginning of the pandemic. Comparing the infected vs. not infected HCWs, median age, BMI, smoking habit, presence of hypertension or other comorbidities were not significantly different, while having worked in a COVID ward was associated with the infection (OR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.07-2.20). Respondents declared that more than 70% of contacts occurred in the hospital with patients or colleagues, while about 15% in domestic environments. Among the infected, the most reported symptoms were fever (62.1%), asthenia (60.3%), anosmia/ageusia (53.5%), arthralgia/myalgia (48.3%), headache or other neurological symptoms (46.6%), cough (43.1%) and flu-like syndrome (41.4%). The percentage of subjects who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 seems to be higher in HCWs than in the general population; hence, in hospitals, protective measures and preventive strategies to avoid the spreading of the contagion remain crucial.