Patients with end-stage-renal-disease (ESRD) undergoing hemodialysis (HD) represent a vulnerable population for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, due to their intrinsic fragility and increased exposure to the virus. Therefore, applying effective screening strategies and infection control measures is essential to control the spread of the epidemic within hemodialysis centers.
Description and evaluation of the efficacy of systematic screening by rt-PCR and viral cultures, in addition to triage to limit the spread of the epidemic. Evaluation of the performance of these tests using “post-hoc” SARS-CoV-2 serology as a surrogate marker of infection.
One hundred and forty-four patients undergoing hemodialysis in the Nephrology-Hemodialysis center of CHU Brugmann, Brussels, benefited from systematic virological screening using viral cultures in asymptomatic patients, or molecular tests (rt-PCR) for symptomatic ones, in addition to general prevention measures. Post-hoc serology was performed in all patients.
Thirty-eight (26.3%) individuals were infected with SARS-CoV-2. Seventeen infected patients (44.7%) were asymptomatic and thus detected by viral culture. Our strategy allowed us to detect and isolate 97.4% of the infected patients, as proven by post-hoc serology. Only one patient, missed by clinical screening and sequential viral cultures, had a positive serology.
The implementation of a control and prevention strategy based on a systematic clinical and virological screening showed its effectiveness in limiting (and shortening) the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic within our hemodialysis unit.

© 2021. Italian Society of Nephrology.