A Polymerase Chain Reaction-Based Algorithm to Detect and Prevent Transmission of Adenoviral Conjunctivitis in Hospital Employees

Irene C. Kuo, Colleen Espinosa, Michael Forman, Alexandra Valsamakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose To devise and implement a practice algorithm that would enable rapid detection and appropriate furlough of hospital employees with adenoviral conjunctivitis in order to prevent healthcare-associated epidemic keratoconjunctivitis. Design Evaluation of an ongoing quality assurance/improvement initiative. Methods Employees of Johns Hopkins Hospital with signs and symptoms of adenoviral conjunctivitis underwent evaluation by nurse practitioners in Occupational Health and rapid diagnostic testing by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Sequencing was used to determine serotype when adenovirus was detected. Signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and disposition of employees with eye complaints as well as PCR and serotype results were recorded. Results Over a 36-month period approximately 18% of initial employee visits were due to unique, eye-related complaints. Viral conjunctivitis was suspected in 542 of 858 employees with eye complaints (62%); adenovirus was detected by PCR in 44 of 542 suspected viral conjunctivitis cases (8%) or 44 of 858 employees with any eye concern (5%). Fourteen of the 44 employees had adenoviral serotypes and clinical presentation consistent with epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (type 37 [n = 6], 8 [n = 4], 4 [n = 3], 19 [n = 1]). Other serotypes found in individuals with less severe conjunctivitis were 3 (n = 5), 4 (n = 5), 56 (n = 4), 1 (n = 2), 42 (n = 1), and 7 (n = 1). No healthcare-associated adenoviral conjunctivitis outbreaks occurred after algorithm implementation, and fewer employees required furlough than had clinical diagnosis alone been used. Conclusions The algorithm is an effective infection prevention tool that minimizes productivity loss compared to clinical diagnosis and allows for determination of prevalence and serotype characterization of adenoviral conjunctivitis in hospital employees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of ophthalmology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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