Environmental Health & Safety

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Avian Flu Management:
Guidelines for Transporting, Treating, and Interacting with Potentially Infected Individuals printer icon

 

This pamphlet provides basic guidance to WSU employees who may transport, treat, and/or interact with individuals suspected or known to have avian flu.

Transporting Individuals Potentially Infected with Avian Flu

When transporting individuals diagnosed with or presenting symptoms consistent with avian flu, the following precautions should be implemented:

  • Pay careful attention to hand hygiene before and after contact with each person transported or with items potentially contaminated with respiratory secretions.
  • Use gloves for all individual contact.
  • Wear goggles when within 3 feet of the individual.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a disposable filtering face piece particulate respirator (e.g., N95) be used. Wearing a respirator requires participation in WSU’s Respiratory Protection Program. Contact Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) for additional information. If transport or movement is necessary, ensure that the patient wears a surgical mask. If a mask cannot be tolerated, apply the most practical measures available to contain respiratory secretions.

Treating & Moving Avian Flu Patients by Healthcare Providers

When treating patients diagnosed with or presenting symptoms consistent with avian flu, the following precautions should be implemented:

  • Pay careful attention to hand hygiene before and after all patient contact or contact with items potentially contaminated with respiratory secretions.
  • Use gloves and gown for patient contact.
  • Use dedicated equipment such as stethoscopes, disposable blood pressure cuffs, disposable thermometers, etc.
  • Wear goggles or face shields when within 3 feet of the patient.
  • Place patient in an airborne isolation room (i.e., monitored negative air pressure in relation to the surrounding areas with 6 to 12 air changes per hour).

The CDC recommends a disposable filtering face piece particulate respirator (e.g., N95) be used. Wearing a respirator requires participation in WSU’s Respiratory Protection Program. Contact EH&S for additional information.

If patient movement is necessary, ensure that the patient wears a surgical mask. If a mask cannot be tolerated, apply the most practical measures to contain respiratory secretions.

In addition to these precautions, all individuals who present with fever and respiratory symptoms should be managed according to the CDC’s recommendations for respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette which include the following measures to contain respiratory secretions:

  • Cover the nose/mouth when coughing or sneezing;
  • Use tissues to contain respiratory secretions and dispose of them in the nearest waste receptacle after use;
  • Perform hand hygiene (e.g., hand washing with non-antimicrobial soap and water, alcohol-based hand rub, or antiseptic hand wash) after having contact with respiratory secretions and contaminated objects/materials.

Healthcare facilities should ensure the availability of materials for adhering to respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette in waiting areas for patients and visitors.

  • Provide tissues and no-touch receptacles for used tissue disposal.
  • Provide conveniently located dispensers of alcohol-based hand rub; where sinks are available, ensure that supplies for hand washing (i.e., soap, disposable towels) are consistently available.

WSU Personnel Who May Interact with the Public Infected with Avian Flu

WSU units should evaluate their essential functions to determine if employees have potential risk exposures similar to healthcare and public safety professionals. Units with similar risk of exposures should develop plans for employee protection, such as gloves, goggles and respiratory protection. EH&S can assist in the evaluation.

NOTE: Employees using respirators as part of their duties must participate in WSU’s Respiratory Protection Program. The program involves a medical evaluation, fit-testing and training before an employee is approved to wear a respirator. This process takes some time; therefore, units should plan in advance to have their employees pre-approved before there is an emergent need. Contact EH&S for additional information.

Getting Assistance

For additional information, consult the CDC web site for “Interim Recommendations for Infection Control in Healthcare Facilities for Patients with Known or Suspected Avian Influenza” or the OSHA site, “Guidance for Protecting Workers against Avian Flu.”

Environmental Health & Safety, PO Box 641172, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-1172, 509-335-3041, Contact Us