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TMCNet:  Healthcare Coalition Questions Federal Government on Infection Control Recommendations for Ebola and Other Exotic, Emerging Contagious Diseases

[August 14, 2014]

Healthcare Coalition Questions Federal Government on Infection Control Recommendations for Ebola and Other Exotic, Emerging Contagious Diseases

WASHINGTON --(Business Wire)--

On a conference call, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disclosed that the bio containment unit at Emory University being used to treat patients brought back to the U.S. infected with Ebola, a BSL level 4 pathogen, is being treated with BSL 2 pathogen precautions and guidelines that go "a little bit beyond [level 2]." This puts Ebola just above the category of Lyme disease and Salmonella. CDC is also releasing infected human waste from the unit into the public sewer system and sending infectious medical waste via truck to an off-site sterilization facility.

Dr. Brandi Limbago, the Deputy Branch Chief at CDC Atlanta, stated, "BSL level 2 precautions would normally include things like working with gloves, wearing a gown, and eye covering. Current laboratory guidance goes a little bit beyond BSL 2 standard precautions and recommends using a face shield or a mask...But beyond that, BSL 2 level safety precautions - as long as they are followed in compliance with the blood-borne pathogens safety standards - should be adequate for handling Ebola."

Ebola is a BSL level 4 pathogen. According to the CDC, BSL-4 builds upon the containment requirements of BSL-3 and is the highest level of biological safety. These agents are dangerous and exotic, posing a high risk of aerosol-transmitted infections. Infections caused by these microbes are frequently fatal and without treatment or vaccines.

"The CDC's contradictory statements on guidelines for dealing with dangerous and communicabe diseases could create confusion and put healthcare workers - and the public - at great risk," said Darrell Henry, Executive Director for the Healthcare Coalition for Emergency Preparedness.


The Coalition recommends that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) consider developing stricter guidelines to protect hospital workers and the public from the Ebola virus, and to increase guidelines for emerging diseases that are POTENTIALLY airborne transmissible.

Infectious waste from communicable diseases that require quarantine should be dealt with in the same way as required by the Federal Government - isolate and sterilize on-site - as opposed to flushing it down a toilet or putting it in truck that will travel over public roads and be handled by multiple workers before being sterilized.

Henry added: "While Emory University is a top-notch medical facility, reducing the risk to worker and public exposure to such pathogens is paramount. Since all level 3 and 4 labs must have and use an autoclave, and levels 1 and 2 must have access to an autoclave, how can you have a bio-containment unit for patient treatment without one? It is paramount that we learn from this situation about the weaknesses in our infection controls and biohazard containment procedures."

The Federal Government already requires laboratories operating at a BSL of four, such as those handling Ebola, Marburg and other hemorrhagic viruses, to utilize a double-door, pass through autoclave for decontaminating materials passing out of the laboratory.

About The Healthcare Coalition for Emergency Preparedness

The Healthcare Coalition for Emergency Preparedness was formed in an effort to raise awareness and educate people about often overlooked issues in plans to maintain healthcare facility operations during a crisis and develop efficient methods to reduce healthcare costs. To learn more about the coalition, please visit www.HealthCarePrep.org.


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