Although HPAI H5N1 viruses have the potential to develop into pandemic viruses if they acquire the ability to pass readily from human-to-human, thus far, there has been only very limited transmission between humans. This document provides interim guidance for protecting employees who may be exposed if there is an outbreak of HPAI H5N1 in the United States. For the most up-to-date information on the occurrence of HPAI H5N1 outbreaks throughout the world, as well as other HPAI virus outbreaks that may also pose a hazard to human health, consult the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) web site at: www.avianflu.gov.
Range from: fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches; to diarrhea, eye infections, pneumonia and severe respiratory diseases; and other severe and life-threatening complications.
The symptoms of avian influenza may depend on which virus caused the infection but often are similar to those associated with human seasonal influenza.
Individuals with these symptoms may be experiencing an illness other than influenza. Therefore, laboratory tests can be used to confirm avian influenza infection in humans.
So far, most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from direct contact with infected poultry (e.g., domesticated chickens, ducks, and turkeys) or contact with surfaces soiled with discharges from their mouths, beaks, or with feces. Other possible means of infection include consuming raw or undercooked poultry or poultry products and inhaling contaminated poultry particles (e.g., this could occur during butchering).
Eating properly handled and cooked poultry and eggs is safe. Cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 165oF and eggs until they are firm throughout kills the AI virus.
Prescription antiviral drugs approved for influenza (based on seasonal outbreak data) may be of some benefit in treating avian flu infection in humans. However, influenza viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work. For some of these drugs to be most effective, they must be taken within 48 hours after the first sign of symptoms. Additional drugs may be developed for influenza, and it is not yet known whether they will be more effective.
Specific control measures should be selected as appropriate to the particular exposure situation.
Employees with potential for exposure should receive training on hazards associated with exposure to HPAI H5N1 and on the procedures in place in their facility to isolate and report cases and reduce exposures.
More information on avian influenza can be found on OSHA’s website, www.osha.gov and search on "avian flu." For up-to-date information about outbreaks of HPAI viruses and treatments see: www.avianflu.gov.
This is one in a series of informational fact sheets highlighting OSHA programs, policies or standards. It does not impose any new compliance requirements. For a comprehensive list of compliance requirements of OSHA standards or regulations, refer to Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This information will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. The voice phone is (202) 693-1999; teletypewriter (TTY) number: (877) 889-5627.
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