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Ebola

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Overview

Ebola virus

Frederick A. Murphy/CDC

The Ebola virus, pictured above in the image from a special type of microscope, is the agent that causes Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EVD).

Ebola virus diseases (EVD) (sometimes called Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever) is the disease caused by infection with an Ebola virus. It is a type of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) brought on by any of several strains of viruses in the Ebolavirus genus. Ebola viruses are capable of causing severe, life-threatening disease. Many people who get EVD die from it. Workers performing tasks involving close contact with symptomatic individuals with EVD or in environments contaminated or reasonably anticipated to be contaminated with infectious body fluids are at risk of exposure. These workers may include workers in the healthcare, mortuary and death care, airline, and other travel service industries.

EVD is usually marked by fever, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. The illness progression includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and impaired organ function. In some cases, rash, internal and/or external bleeding, and death may occur.

In areas of Africa where Ebola viruses are common, suspected reservoirs include primate and bat populations. While there are no known animal reservoirs of the disease in the U.S., there is concern related to possible spread of EVD among human populations due to the availability and reach of global travel. Under certain conditions, exposure to just one viral particle can result in development of EVD. Depending on the strain and the individual infected with the disease, EVD may be fatal in 50-90 percent of cases.1

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorizes Ebola virus as a Category A select agent. This group includes high-priority agents that pose a risk to national security because they can be easily disseminated or transmitted from person to person; result in high mortality rates and have the potential for major public health impact; might cause public panic and social disruption; and require special action for public health preparedness. Because symptoms of EVD may appear consistent with many other illnesses (e.g., influenza, malaria), diagnosis and treatment of EVD could be delayed during an outbreak. Employers must protect their workers from exposure to Ebola virus on the job.

This web page provides information about Ebola viruses and EVD for workers and employers. The web page includes sections on:

Background

Provides background information, including the origins of the Ebola virus and EVD.

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Hazard Recognition

Provides information that may aid in the recognition of symptoms and possible hazards of EVD.

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Medical Information

Discusses exposure, incubation, symptom onset, illness, and recovery and death information as well as medical management and countermeasures.

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Standards

The Ebola virus is covered under specific OSHA standards for General Industry.

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Control and Prevention

Provides general guidelines for workers by job type. These general guidelines are not intended to cover workers who have direct contact with individuals with EVD.

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Additional Resources

Provides links and references to additional resources related to EVD.

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Workers' Rights

Workers have the right to:

  • Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
  • Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
  • Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.

For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.

How to Contact OSHA

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.

Quick Facts

  • Currently, Ebola virus and Ebola virus disease (EVD) do not pose a threat to most U.S. workers. However, during outbreaks, exposure to the virus or someone with EVD may be more likely in certain sectors, including the healthcare, mortuary/death care, and airline servicing industries.
  • At this time, there is not an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. Isolated outbreaks are common, particularly in Africa. Currently, the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country in Central Africa, is experiencing an outbreak that has resulted in hemorrhagic fever-related deaths.
  • There have been no known cases of EVD acquired in the U.S. since the 2014-2015 West African outbreak.
  • Some specially equipped U.S. hospitals have treated patients with EVD who were brought back to the U.S. after being infected in other countries.
  • Ebola typically spreads by contact with body fluids from a living or deceased person or animal with EVD, though some medical, laboratory, and other tasks may expose workers to aerosols containing Ebola virus.
  • Until a person develops symptoms of EVD, he or she is not considered contagious.
  • Whenever workers have occupational exposure to the Ebola virus, employers must take steps to protect them.

Quick Links

The OSH Act protects workers who complain to their employer, OSHA or other government agencies about unsafe or unhealthful working conditions in the workplace. You cannot be transferred, denied a raise, have your hours reduced, be fired, or punished in any other way because you used any right given to you under the OSH Act. If you have been punished or discriminated against for using your rights, you must file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged reprisal for most complaints. No particular form is required to report the discrimination, but you may send a letter, call the OSHA Area Office nearest you, or file online using the Online Whistleblower Complaint Form.

1 "NRT Quick Reference Guide: Ebola and Marburg Hemorrhagic Fevers," U.S. National Response Team.

Quick Facts

  • Currently, Ebola virus and Ebola virus disease (EVD) do not pose a threat to most U.S. workers. However, during outbreaks, exposure to the virus or someone with EVD may be more likely in certain sectors, including the healthcare, mortuary/death care, and airline servicing industries.
  • At this time, there is not an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. Isolated outbreaks are common, particularly in Africa. Currently, the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country in Central Africa, is experiencing an outbreak that has resulted in hemorrhagic fever-related deaths.
  • There have been no known cases of EVD acquired in the U.S. since the 2014-2015 West African outbreak.
  • Some specially equipped U.S. hospitals have treated patients with EVD who were brought back to the U.S. after being infected in other countries.
  • Ebola typically spreads by contact with body fluids from a living or deceased person or animal with EVD, though some medical, laboratory, and other tasks may expose workers to aerosols containing Ebola virus.
  • Until a person develops symptoms of EVD, he or she is not considered contagious.
  • Whenever workers have occupational exposure to the Ebola virus, employers must take steps to protect them.

Quick Links

The OSH Act protects workers who complain to their employer, OSHA or other government agencies about unsafe or unhealthful working conditions in the workplace. You cannot be transferred, denied a raise, have your hours reduced, be fired, or punished in any other way because you used any right given to you under the OSH Act. If you have been punished or discriminated against for using your rights, you must file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged reprisal for most complaints. No particular form is required to report the discrimination, but you may send a letter, call the OSHA Area Office nearest you, or file online using the NOnline Whistleblower Complaint Form.
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