Hepatitis B in Camphill life sharing communities in Ireland

Authors: Dr Nick Blitz, Camphill communities of Ireland and Dr Gannon, Consultant in occupational health physician, HSE South

Organisation: Campill Communities of Ireland

Keywords: Hepatitis B; Camphill; life sharing communities

Published: Frontline. Number 79 2010

(01 Dec 2002)

Research in the 1980s demonstrated that 50 to 70% of all residents in longstay mental handicap institutions in Ireland had been infected with hepatitis B and 10% of them were chronic carriers, presumably due to poor hygiene and living standards.
Oral salivary swabs were tested for hepatitis B from all consenting people with intellectual disabilities (192) and all long-term coworkers (92) in eight out of nine Camphill communities in the Republic of Ireland. Only one person with intellectual disability and one long-term co-worker showed evidence of previous hepatitis B infection and neither were carriers.
As only 15% of the 284 tested had been vaccinated for hepatitis B this difference is probably largely due to the fact that between 50 and 60% of the people with intellectual disability came to Camphill from home and had no past history of institutionalisation. The high quality of life in relation to health, nutrition, personal hygiene and the environment at Camphill are also probably relevant.
Vaccination for hepatitis B is obviously an important measure in controlling the spread of this disease, but a lifestyle that aims to maximise health is also of relevance.
Further studies should be done in other organisations to determine the current situation regarding hepatitis B in disability services in Ireland.


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