Covid-19 presentation among symptomatic healthcare workers in Ireland

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O'Sullivan, Grainne
Jacob, S.
Barrett, Peter M.
Gallagher, J.
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Oxford University Press
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Background: It is recognized that healthcare workers (HCWs) are at high risk of contracting Covid-19. It is incumbent on occupational health staff to recognize potential symptoms of Covid-19 among HCWs. Aims: The aims of the study were to describe the presenting symptoms of HCWs who developed Covid-19 in Ireland, and to estimate the odds of specific symptoms being associated with a positive Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) result. Methods: A retrospective chart review of all symptomatic HCWs who self-presented for Covid-19 testing in Cork from March to May 2020 was conducted. A sex-matched case–control study was carried out to compare presenting features among those who tested positive compared to those who tested negative. Univariate and multivariable-adjusted conditional logistic regression models were run using Stata 15.0 to identify the symptoms associated with positive Covid-19 swab results. Results: Three hundred and six HCWs were included in the study; 102 cases and 204 controls. Common presenting features among cases were fever/chills (55%), cough (44%) and headache (35%). The symptoms which were significantly associated with a positive Covid-19 swab result were loss of taste/smell (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 12.15, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.36–108.79), myalgia (aOR 2.36, 95% 1.27–4.38), fatigue (aOR 2.31, 95% CI 1.12–4.74), headache (aOR 2.11, 95% CI 1.19–3.74) and fever/chills (aOR 1.88, 95% CI 1.12–3.15). Conclusions: Fever, fatigue, myalgia, loss of taste/smell and headache were associated with increased odds of a Covid-19 diagnosis among symptomatic self-referred HCWs compared with those had negative swab results. Testing criteria for HCWs should reflect the broad range of possible symptoms of Covid-19.
Covid-19 , Healthcare worker , Occupational health , SARS-CoV-2 , Symptoms
O’Sullivan, G., Jacob, S., Barrett, P. M. and Gallagher, J. (2021) 'Covid-19 presentation among symptomatic healthcare workers in Ireland', Occupational Medicine, 71(2), pp. 95–98. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqab012
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© 2021, the Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Occupational Medicine. All rights reserved.