OSHA updates guidance on avian flu
The US Department of Labor has released revised
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance to help employers
protect their workers from job-related exposure to H5N1 avian influenza.
"We encourage employers and employees who are most likely to be exposed to
to take the appropriate precautions," said OSHA
Administrator Ed Foulke.
"This guidance offers them practical tips, such as hand washing and the use of
proper protective equipment, for preventing illness."
In a media release, OSHA said wild birds, particularly waterfowl, are
natural hosts of avian influenza viruses and often show no symptoms; however,
some of the viruses can cause high mortality in poultry, including the H5N1
Some strains of avian flu viruses carried by these wild birds can infect
domestic fowl and in turn can infect humans, causing fever, cough, sore throat,
eye infections and muscle pain. Avian flu can also lead to pneumonia, acute
respiratory distress, and other severe and life-threatening complications. The
most common route of transmission to humans is by contact with contaminated
poultry, OSHA said.
The new document
updates guidance on avian flu issued by OSHA in
2004. The update provides separate recommendations for poultry employees and
those who handle other animals, and for laboratory employees, healthcare
personnel, food handlers, travelers, and US employees stationed abroad. The
primary focus is on good hygiene, including use of gloves and hand washing, as
well as respiratory protection for those who work with infected animals or
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