Ebola: Just the Facts
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), better known as simply Ebola, has been the center of global media coverage for a series of weeks. The severe, and sometimes deadly, virus is common in areas of Africa where suspected reservoirs include primate and bat populations. And although no animal reservoirs of the disease are known in the U.S., there is concern, now more than ever, related to the spread of Ebola among human populations as a result of global travel.
After the first case Ebola in the U.S. caused the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, we learned that nurse Nina Pham, who treated him at Dallas' Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital was diagnosed with the virus days later. Her colleague, Amber Vinson, was abroad an aircraft with a mild fever just one day before she also tested positive for Ebola. However, her fever was below the threshold for Ebola and she didn't show any symptoms of the disease while on her flight. Therefore, she was ruled not contagious while onboard.
It’s not surprising that workers in the healthcare are more susceptible to being exposed to deadly diseases such as Ebola. Hospitals and treatment facilities have the capacity and education to be equipped when such events occur. But, what about workers and employers in non-healthcare settings?
Once aware of the news, Frontier Airlines ordered an immediate decontamination of the commercial jet that Vinson was aboard, including removal of seat covers, carpeting and air filters near her seat. Employers of all industries should be educated and prepared to decontaminate should they encounter a similar situation.
OSHA has released a fact sheet for non-healthcare and non-laboratory employers with guidelines for cleaning and decontaminating Ebola on surfaces. As a precaution, we advise all employers to review the fact sheet and understand that there is the possibility of potential risk, should someone carrying the virus find themselves in your place of business.
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